Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Scandinavian Gentleman on my Ironing Board

Well I got thoroughly soaked this morning spending three solid hours with DD1 at this year's County Selection Day for rugby (what else!)

We will know during the next week officially if she has been selected to play for Somerset this season but it seems a bit of a foregone conclusion as the entry numbers this year were very low indeed and probably all comers will be in the side.

Because she has moved up an age group and is effectively one of the babies (in age if not in experience) she was half expecting not to be selected and it was a little of an anti-climax that there wasn't more of a battle on her hands.

Still she had an excellent morning out and thoroughly enjoyed getting totally soaked, extremely muddy and somewhat bruised.

I was soaked through my waterproof coat, fleece under-jacket and shirt just watching and we were in the shelter of a stand of conifers

Still it faired up after about an hour and it was great to see her back in action doing what she loves most.

Once home again about 2pm DH asked what the plans were for this afternoon - after a soaking morning and a pretty intensive week at work all I wanted to do was chill out with a needle in my hand

Surprisingly he agreed and went to play in the loft and our bedroom with the pre-conservatory electrics.

I had a small surprise when I went into our bedroom later and found that some 'over-large mice' had been chewing big holes in our bedroom wall - fortunately I did a double take and realised that, in fact, it's the cut outs for the plug sockets next to my make-up mirror that he's been promising me since we moved here. Soon I will be able to use the hairdryer without setting up a booby trap trip wire with the lead across the bedroom floor.

So he pottered and I pottered and the kids chilled out doing their own thing - everyone happy!

This coupled with a take-away fish and chip supper meant no-one stressed out over who was going to fix tea either :o)

I spent a little time at the machine constructing the Scandinavian Liverpool player you see reclining on my ironing board (only four more to go now!) and the rest of the time hand appliqueing more onto my ostrich - slow but steady progress there.

A very productive afternoon and the perfect antedote to a busy week :o)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

We rear 'em big in Somerset

This is the Lesser Spotted Nine Patch Somerset Rooster - very rare with only one left in captivity, living right here in Taunton

Ok so I'm being a little silly (what's new? I hear you say)

Having seen the instructions and pictures of chicken pincushions on Darcie's blog I was itching to have a go - thanks for the idiot's guide Darcie

Now as I seldom make 'block pattern' quilts - i.e. those with a number of the same block repeated - I also seldom try out sample blocks so by the same token don't usually have orphan blocks kicking around

Impatience should be my middle name as of course I couldn't wait until I'd constructed a couple of nice little 5" or 6" log cabin blocks

However I did manage to find a couple of nine patch orphans which were probably a tad oversized for this kind of project - about 9" to be exact - and I had a bit of a play

Instead of using felt for the comb and the beak I made cotton ones with a bit of thin wadding in to give substance along with buttons for the eyes

So I merrily stitched away and...... Voila!

Monsieur Le Coq Massif! :o)

He was such fun I may well have a bit of a go with some prettier smaller blocks over the next few days - I have some birdcage sand I've been saving for just such an exercise so I may have me a brand new pincushion and playmate for Piggyosaurus very soon :o)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A few more show quilts

The quilt show last Saturday had several categories or themes - basically members of the group had at different times been given a theme or topic to work round.

One of these themes was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a Victorian engineer of some renown whose work can be found around the south west of England. 2006 is the bicentenary of his birth.

These three small quilts were, in my humble opinion, the most impressive of the 15 or 20 quilts in this category

I especially picked the train one for Nigel it commemorates Brunel's GWR - Great Western Railway (or in train buff speak (like DH) 'God's Wonderful Railway).

The sunset quilt depicts Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge which spans the Avon Gorge on the edge of Bristol

The other one is a more general depiction of his many areas of expertise and the stitching was absolutely exquisite

You can see two of these quilts got rosettes

Bristol which is about 45-50 miles from here is a Brunel hot spot, as well as the bridge at Clifton, the docks in Bristol house his SS Great Britain - one of the first iron ships and the Bristol Temple Meads railway station is also his work

Brunel was a truly Great Briton

Monday, September 25, 2006

Look what you can do with hexagons

Well the none quilty picture is of Lou doing a pretty passable impersonation of me on the pier at Weston last weekend! - except I don't stick out my tongue :o)

The other two photos show one of the quilts at the show - if you look closely you can see that the centre section has been constructed of hexagons, albeit some of them sub-pieced first. The hexagons were about 2.5" across and it worked very well indeed. It puts me in mind of a scene of an Italian coastal village and it wasn't until I took a closer look that I realised it was hexagons.

I'm at home today as DS got up this morning with a horrid temperature that liquid paracetamol just didn't touch at all. Fortunately he's improved as the day has gone on, thank goodness, but I was more than a bit concerned earlier in the day as it's just not like him to even admit to feeling under the weather. Obviously not your typical man :o)

If he carries on improving at this rate he should be back to school tomorrow. Thank goodness if he is as I have the Area Finance Officer coming in to work to show me some of the more complicated ropes - this should at least make me feel like I'm starting to know what I'm doing. I do keep telling myself that at this time next year I shall look back and wonder what all the fuss was about but it is hard to keep that level of perspective when you're continually firefighting in your first few months

However, on the stitching front, today has been a bonus as I've just snuggled on the sofa with my boy merrily handstitching a bit more on my Ostrich - every cloud has that little silver lining.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Seven little stars all in a row

Okay - correction - seven 'not so little stars' all in a row!

Well they are actually 6" stars completed so with 3/4" sashings between them the row comes out at about 48" in total

No matter how hard I try I really just can't do small :o)

The full challenge will I think end up with seven separate parts - now anyone with half a head for maths can tell that at this rate I shall end up with a square quilt which isn't what I'm aiming for.

So I've decided that, as well as completing each months theme in a row I will also put a light coloured background row of about probably 3 - 4" depth between them all and applique along it to match

This should end up giving me a centre of around 48" wide and 76.5" long.

Just the right size to put a nice border round for a generous single bed sized quilt

I've quite enjoyed pottering along this afternoon and evening putting this row to bed. I usually detest piecing, especially triangles but I purchased a set of 'Flying Geese Truing-Up' templates at Malvern the other year and have quite enjoyed using them on these stars - plus I've managed not to cut too many points off when assembling the row - definitely rising to the challenge for me on that!

The ladies don't know it yet but the next challenge will be 'Circles - or any part of'. This could mean applique, drunkards path, dresden plate, New York Beauty or bullseyes to give a few examples. The sky will be their limit!

Another name done and ideas for a new project

I'm feeling a little flat this afternoon - DH has headed off to Bristol airport this afternoon to catch a flight to Hamburg til late Tuesday for work. As you can see I have another man in the house already - a certain Mr Djibril Cisse ex Liverpool Football Club but he's only here in fabric you understand :o)

While I realise that lots of you out there have your husband away on business trips for much longer than a couple of nights I just hate it when he's away - having been widowed in a previous relationship at only 29 years old I'm never totally comfortable until he's back safely in the comfort of our own home.

To add insult to injury, not only have I not been and would love to visit Hamburg, but tomorrow afternoon/evening he will meet up with our very good friends who live in Lubeck about 20 minutes away so you can understand why I'm feeling especially jealous about this particular trip

He was in a really good mood before his departure - it will do him a power of good to get out of the office for the time apart from anything else - so I took full advantage and got him to pass my fabric boxes down from the loft so I could make some selections for the next project I'm planning

The ladies at my Monday morning quilt group have been quite taken with my different Ostriches and medallion quilts. So much so they asked why don't we make a quilt of this type adding another 'bit' to it once every one or two months. So I agreed to set something up for them

The options will be very flexible - the quilt could be a medallion style, different blocks like a sampler, or a row quilt. The colours, style and size will be completely at the maker's discretion

Everyone seemed a little nonplussed when given the option to do exactly what they wanted for their base piece and asked for a theme. So I gave them the option of either something of their choice or if lacking inspiration then the theme of 'Stars'

Of course once I'd announced all this last Monday I then realised I ought to do something myself. I don't really fancy yet another medallion so decided to do a row-by-row quilt instead which will probably turn out single bed sized as each row will be about 6" x 36" to start off with and we will probably have seven sections which will of course need something between them in my case.

Again colours didn't spring easily to mind but looking at Jeanne's blog and Norma's blog the primitive, folk art colours they've worked on some of their applique quilts really appealed

So I've dug out a washing basket full of sands, beiges, browns, greens, reds and purples all in what the lady from one of my old LQS's - The Pumpkin Patch - would have called 'muddy' colours - Siobhan this one could be a good stopping off point for you as it's not far from Cheltenham

So I guess I ought to put away these footballers and get on with something a little more celestial

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Liverpool progress and some new toys

I've had a very varied day today - started off watching DS play football (they won 3-2 'just' - but it gave them lots of practice in defense)

Then as we were half way there we headed off up to Weston-super-Mare, a 'seaside' town about 20-30 miles from home which has a beach that stretches out for miles at low tide into the Bristol Channel - hence its nick-name Weston-super-Mud!

Method in my madness here, as you might ask why anyone would want to visit a run-down Victorian seaside resort with an uninspiring beach

Well the real pull was the fact that Weston Quilters were holding their biannual show

However in a bid to keep DH sweet we called in at a canoe shop on the way that he's been meaning to check out since we moved here.

The rest of the family were very good, they dropped me off directly outside the show building and then went off to park right at the opposite end of the Promenade.

By the time they'd had a leisurely saunter up the beach and had a good throw about with the rugby ball they didn't have very long to wait for me to come out of the quilt show and it was off for ice creams on the pier.

I kept my spending to a minimum - only replenishing my stocks of white-on-whites and cream-on-creams which are extremely low - there were some very pretty fabrics that were very tempting but I managed to resist

I did take a real shine to the Husquvarna Mega Quilter machine that was on special offer at £499 instead of £599 but I thought Nigel might just lose the plot if I'd walked out with one of those

However I just couldn't resist the two items in the picture above

The husband of one of the group members is a wood-turner. He had made these beautiful pointers for pushing out corners if you're turning stitched items the right way out - you know the sort of situation where you use the point of your scissors or a knitting needle and push clean through the fabric. The other item is a pressing tool which you can use to hand press seams if you don't want to jump up to the ironing board every two minutes - a bit like a Japanese Hera I believe.

These items were so tactile I could have brought the lot home - the smoothness of the wood was like velvet

They cost me the princely sum of £2 for the pointer and £3.50 for the presser. The wood is so beautiful - it looks like cherry to me - that they were worth it just to bring them home to look at, never mind use.

So of course when I returned I was all fired up to stitch again and having bought a load of white-on-white I thought it about time I did a bit more of Nick's Liverpool quilt. 'Peter Crouch' was the result and the presser tool was very useful for smoothing out the seams between stitching

That makes eight names done and six to go - I've also dug into my stash and come across some fabric with footballs on against a background of flags (obviously with the world cup in mind) so I may use some of that in the quilt when I start putting all the names together.

Once I've downloaded all the rest of the photos I took today I'll treat you to some of the quilt shots over the next few days

Friday, September 22, 2006

Trying to be politically correct

First of all let me apologise profusely for the diabolical standard of these photos - our scanner has never taken to life in Somerset (well either that or no-one's had sufficient time or inclination to persuade it to talk to the computer in its new home)

So these are photographs of photographs - hence the reflection of the flash and lack of clarity

Finn was talking the other day about a little quilt she made with 'Southern Mammies' on it and how politically incorrect that might be perceived to be in these times. It put me in mind of a Welcome Banner I made for our old church in Gloucester. The photo is the only record I have of it now.

The church had links with a church and school in Calcutta, India (think that it's now known as Kolcatta but don't quote me on that)

We were to receive a visit from the minister of this church at an All Age Worship family service and our minister asked at the planning meeting if someone could make a banner with the word 'welcome' in various different languages.

I think he probably expected something drawn out in marker pens on a length of lining paper.

I volunteered and made the quilted hanging you can get the gist of in the pictures

I had the idea to make a group of multi-cultural children with various speech bubbles around them each with the word in a different language.

The only pre-requisite was that there should be space left for our visitor to write the word in his native language of Bengali - so I duly left him a bubble and a marker pen to write in it

The children include little versions of my own at that age - Sarah is second from left on the front row with her mid brown bob, Nick is the ginger haired boy in the middle row and Lou is the little blonde at the back.

The other children depict various races, the very dark skinned Indian girl has a sequin for her bindi on her forehead. All the children have exactly the same black buttons for eyes and big white semi-circle toothpaste ad type smiles.

When I took it round to The Manse to hand it over the Minister was in the middle of a meeting and so hurriedly took the rolled up hanging that I'd ceremoniously wrapped in black bin liners and thanked me in a distracted fashion to dash back to his meeting

He phoned me an hour or so later lost for words as it was a total surprise and 'far exceeded his expectations' (his words not mine)

I wish I'd thought to go back and take a better digital picture of it before I left but hindsight is always 20/20 vision

The Piggiosaurus

Lots of different bloggers have been talking about pincushions lately, so I thought I'd show you mine

I'm a great lover of the magnetic ones - as you can see from the photo it's by no means just for pins - basically it catches anything metal that I throw at it from pins and needles to empty bobbins and I have about four of this type of pincushion. Every now and then I have a real good sort out and separate their contents so each one houses something different but of course in mid creative flow I'm not quite anal enough to keep their contents segregated immaculately.

The other pictures show the two sides of my piggy - he was a secret santa present a couple of years ago and I keep him specially for my flower headed pins. The kids occasionally get hold of him and arrange the pins in a 'spine' all down his back - hence the name Piggyosaurus!

Mind you DS has taken to absent mindedly decapitating the heads off any flower pins he might find laying about whilst sitting watching the tv - you know a bit like unfolding paperclips when you're thinking about something else - so I think the Pig may have to go into hiding before he has no spines left!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

this WILL be one for my sister

When my sister came down to visit at the end of August we chatted at length about her marital situation and where she would live once the final split took place on the sale of the marital home

For long enough I've wanted to make her a quilt, I wasn't into quilting when she married 20 years ago and in some ways I'm glad I've never got round to it since, as the quilt would have been part of the marriage and wouldn't feel as good now they're divorcing - that probably sounds a little strange but I don't like to think of any quilt I've made being unhappy :o)

The pictures show a top I completed almost three years ago with her in mind - it had been a kind of 'Ostrich' at our quilt group with a different member each month introducing another theme or technique. The general theme for the year was 'Leaves'. The photo isn't brilliant as the sun hasn't come round fully into the garden yet this morning but at least the wind dropped long enough for me to take it as when I first pegged it out I thought I would lose the entire thing into next doors garden - fortunately I'd put in sufficient pegs :o)

She admired it once part way through construction so it kind of grew towards her as it developed. The colours came about by chance from a bunch of fat quarters DH brought me back from his first trip to Cleveland , Ohio.

Now she's looking to getting a place of her own I'd really like to complete it for her so she has something special with no history attached.

The move should happen over the next month or so (house sale permitting - keeping everything crossed on that one) but as things stand here in our house I can't really see me getting it sandwiched and quilted in that time.

We have ordered a conservatory to be built on the back of our house here in Taunton. It was the only box that wasn't 'ticked' on our wish list when we chose the house and we decided we could live with having it done ourselves (gulp!)

Although a company will come in and do the main of the work DH (in his infinite madness) decided that in order to save money he (with the help of his electrical engineer father) would sort out the electrics himself.

While I know he is more than capable of this, pressures of work etc may not be conducive to a trouble-free smooth process which must be organised and completed prior to the arrival of the builders at the beginning of November

So as you can imagine I'm putting my tin hat and flak jacket on and keeping my head down while trying to keep on top of the house to ease the operation - sometimes your time and sanity really isn't worth the money saved

Dragging out and starting to quilt another 'brute' will certainly not make for a stress free environment during this transition process

Guess my sister might just have to wait a little longer for her special quilt

Still if it's worth waiting for what's a few more weeks between us eh?

Monday, September 18, 2006

A good afternoon's work!

Well I spent a lovely afternoon yesterday in my beautifully tidy sewing room constructing the quilt top for Jack, the expected baby of Sarah's rugby coach. Isn't it so much easier to be creative and productive when there is order all around you

It's not my choice of colours and decidedly 'un-baby' but Sarah had especially requested the quilt be made in the rugby club colours of Burgundy, Black and White (as you can see from the shirts on the action photo) because both prospective parents are heavily involved in the club - they even had their wedding bash there in specially customised club shirts.

I've been quite surprised at how it's turned out - nothing like as heavy and dark as I expected - I think the stars on the black fabric help to break it up a bit. It's quite a generous size for a cot quilt coming out at about 38" wide by 46" but it will be good for a floor mat as well for use in a cot if they want

The baby's not due to make his appearance for about another three to four weeks so I've a little time to get it completed and I shall bind it in the black

No doubt Dad will be delighted it's in team colours, I think Mum will probably smile, shake her head and say 'Typical!'

Sadly the England ladies team were beaten last night by New Zealand's Black Ferns who held onto their title for a third successive time. The score was 25 - 17 but from all the reports I've read it deserved to be much closer as the English side put up a very spirited fight with a good deal of ball possession. The only photos I've seen show our girls at the receiving end of some pretty ferocious 'dump' tackles where they're lifted up by the legs and landed down upside down on their heads and shoulders - Ouch!

When discussing this with Sarah she was quite indignant that this is very much frowned upon and obviously dangerous to boot although it happens at all levels in most sides. Cringing I asked her did she really want to aspire to eventually play at this level - her answer came back a resounding YES!!!

As my late grandmother would have said "Where there's no sense there's no feeling!"

So a grudging congratulations to the NZ girls and be warned there's always next time!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

He really is the sweetest man

You know, having two failed relationships prior to meeting Nigel, I count my lucky stars every day I spend married to him.

He's having the toughest time at work at present, firefighting to stop lots of other people's errors and oversights impacting on the company. As a result he's getting so stressed and of course this all spills out into our family life at home. He really doesn't want it to, but hey we all have times when we can't leave work at work and middle of the night phonecalls and mealtime interruptions combined with very long hours are definitely getting to him.

Hence if I want him to do anything around the house I pick my moments very carefully, not because I'd get an adverse reaction you understand, just that I really need to be supportive to him and not add to his burdens.

So it was a real treat today that, having completely bottomed the 'play-room' yesterday - not only my stitching end but the computer end too - he could take the time out to sort out hanging my quilting rulers on the wall so they're easily to hand and not in danger of any damage

Okay so it only meant knocking a few masonry nails in but the fact that the job was done with good grace and love is especially important at the moment :o)

He is just the best husband, father, provider and friend I could have ever picked and, albeit it's third time lucky, he was definitely worth the wait!

Jusy a little one to help

Clare at Dordogne Quilter has been asking for blocks to go towards a quilt to raise funds for Leukaemia Research.

Here's one I made earlier

I believe the block criteria is Red and White, 8.5" unfinished

Hope this is ok Clare - happy to help - go on girls have a go - it's a good cause and I'm sure all contributions will be gratefully received

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A year ago today...............

we moved to Taunton.

The children were farmed out to grandparents, we waved off the removal van from our old home in Gloucester, had a final good vacuum and clean round, handed over the keys to the new owners and headed off south down the M5 motorway to our new life in sunny Taunton.

We can hardly believe it's a year ago - doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself?

Today saw a busy morning - DH took DS to football (in the new boots which mercifully were absolutely fine - phew!) where they won 15-Nil !!!

I had a complete blitz on my sewing area and it's all lovely and clear to start on the baby quilt, probably tomorrow.

Later this afternoon we decided to go out for a walk, all five of us.

Up on the Blackdown Hills to the south of Taunton is a monument overlooking our neighbouring town of Wellington. It commemorates the Duke of Wellington's victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1812 (I think).

As we've visited Napoleon's monument on the hill overlooking Boulogne in France (and the battle site at Waterloo in Belgium) we thought it only fitting we should visit it's English counterpart, so we headed up there this afternoon fully expecting to be able to catch a panoramic view of the town we moved to a year ago.

The picture above shows the pinnacle but sadly as the trees on the edge of the hillside are fully grown and still in full leaf you couldn't see out across Taunton Vale. Maybe we should return in the wintertime and see if it's any better with all the leaves off. The monument is also undergoing restoration - hence the metal barracade round its base - so we couldn't climb up inside it to try and take in the view from there either :o(

Still, the walk was pleasant, up to the monument and through the woods around it.

The afternoon was warm and sunny but in the shade there was a definite nip in the air necessitating a jumper or light jacket.

Autumn is on its way, acorns and beech nuts in abundance and there were lots of different types of fungi growing on the tree stumps in the darker areas.

The brown ones in one of the pictures were some I've never seen before and looked like big flat chocolate truffles - with a sort of cocoa powdery surface - they then looked like they'd been dipped in white icing on the underneath, most unusual.

Now had we been in France we could have taken them to the local Pharmacy for identification as all French Pharmacists in addition to their dispensing role have to be trained to identify each fungus so that people can tell which ones are edible - a highly skilled job with dire consequences if you got it wrong I should think.

These might have looked like chocolate truffles but I certainly wouldn't have chanced it!

The weather forecast for tomorrow is not so good so, as I've already washed the black and burgundy fabrics in readiness, I should be able to try and make some progress on this baby quilt as time is marching on.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Come on you girls!!!!!

It's probably escaped most of your notice - except possibly those of you resident there - but the Women's Rugby World Cup is currently being fought out in Canada.

After playing and beating the home nation in the semi finals last weekend the England team who are seeded #2 will meet the #1 seeds New Zealand in the final on Sunday (well almost Monday our time)

In their usual chauvinistic fashion the sports TV channels have completely ignored this competition choosing only to report on any mens rugby as per usual so sadly DD1 and the rest of the family have been unable to watch any of the girls matches - boy, do these television companies need re-educating.

Anyway I divert from the usual quilting talk to wish our girls the very very best of luck on Sunday against the opponents who beat them in the finals last time in Barcelona in 2002 and the semis the time before

The photos show the girls celebrating after their win against Canada and the action shot shows a girl called Katy Storie (blue scrum hat) barging her way out of a tackle. She is the Regional Development Manager for the South West region of the RFUW (Rugby Football Union - Women) and Sarah has met and trained under her on several occasions. Having been capped for the second string England A squad many times this tournament is the first time she's been capped for her country's main team. We especially wish her well..............GO GIRLS!!!

A germ of an idea for the cot quilt

Well this has got to be the oddest colour combination for a cot quilt ever!

I had to go into town yesterday straight from school

DS desperately needed new football boots - so much so they rubbed a blister clean off during last Saturday's match (which they won 7-2 despite the boots I might add). Daddy usually does the sports shopping - Mummy isn't up on sports really so gently slope-shoulders that one onto Dad!

However Daddy is very, very stressed out with work at the moment (so much so I'm getting very concerned and thinking of dragging him down to our Doctors, but that's another story) So the long and the short of it is I ended up taking DS and DD2 into town shopping straight from school while DD1 was playing netball after school.

Now some of you may know I'm seriously allergic to any type of shopping that doesn't involve raw fabric - by this I mean off the bolt or out of the FQ basket. Made up fabric ie clothes doesn't hit the spot at all - probably because finding anything for a dwarf who is wider than tall is an almost impossibility! (Tongue slightly in cheek here but you get my drift!)

So to make this arduous ordeal anything like bearable I just had to walk through Magdalene Passage to get to the sports shop.

Surprise, Surprise! What should be down this innocent little snicket (as we called them in Yorkshire) or alleyway as the rest of the world knows them................. Fine Fabrics.............Quelle surprise!!!

Now bearing in mind that I was too mean to put more than one hour's parking on the car, how amazing is it that I managed to pick up one and a quarter metres of the mottled burgundy in the picture. (To all you girls over the other side of the pond the £8.20 (that's about $15) per metre it retailed at meant that this was all I could justify spending - so count yourself lucky fabric is so cheap with you :o)

All done in the twinkling of an eye before the two youngsters even started to get bored.

Anyway to cut a long story short the football boots were sought out, tried on and purchased - a major miracle as I hate the shop with its crammed together racks and inordinately loud music (another reason why DH usually takes him) plus we nipped into the bookshop for DS2 to spend her pocket money on a new book she's been wanting for a while.

A short cut back to the car through one of the big high street stationers which enabled me to pick up next years big family kitchen calendar plus a quilting magazine rounded off a very productive and quite painless trip :o)))))

And to round things off very nicely DH even agreed to bring down my 'black' and 'white' fabric boxes without any moaning - now that is definitely a result at the moment.

So having a good rummage through I came out with the above. I would have liked a nice white on white but have no yardage at all even in different FQ's which I would have been happy to use - so the white will be this slightly shimmery fabric which I'm sure will do fine once it's cut up and in amongst the other colours. The black has little mid grey stars on just to break it up a bit and make it look less funereal.

I was browsing among my many quilting books last night and happened upon a simple pattern which is so simple it can almost hardly be called a pattern

I intend to make four patches with the black and burgundy and then in turn four patch those with white squares

I'll make sure I arrange them with all the blacks going on one diagonal and all the burgundies the other

Then dependant upon how much fabric I have left I'll just do plain borders in the three around the outside

Well that's a nice simple plan which should look quite effective but not too overpowering with the dark colours

Then I might just random quilt it with TRFC which stands for Taunton Rugby Football Club. Not quite as bizarre as it sounds as both the baby's parents have played for the club, mum is the Fillies coach and dad is the groundsman who looks after the pitches etc

So watch this space! Creative juices starting to seep if not in full flow quite yet

PS The one thing I forgot to mention is that the baby is known to be a boy and they intend to name him Jack so at least I don't have the added complication of making the quilt look girlie in these colours - phew!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A little bit of stained glass applique for you

I've always been a lover of stained glass. As a teenager I'd always use the East window in our church with it's picture of Jesus portrayed as the Good Shepherd to focus on during prayer. Never been much good at praying with my eyes shut :o)

Also as a youngster when we'd go out on family outings my father would always indulge his love of old buildings especially churches and of course whatever he wanted to go and see we had to dutifully follow.

Oddly enough, I actually enjoyed these visits too - most children and teenagers would rebel against 'boring old history' but not me.

When Nigel and I met we discovered we had a common love of architecture and we will often pick out little details of buildings on the high street above the usual 'chain store' signage that assaults your eye as you visit English town centres - each a clone of the other. We're both very fond of city breaks and have been fortunate enough to visit various different European locations over the past few years.

So it's really not surprising that I love windows and especially stained glass.

The 'windows' picture is taken of a Roman Catholic maternity hospital near the Dom (cathedral) in Lubeck in northern Germany - obviously as it is daylight and I was outside the building you couldn't see if any colours came into play but the I thought the patterns were wonderful - very Art Deco 1930's! Quite a departure from the usual stained glass designs you might see around and about. Food for another quilt maybe?

When we held our quilt show in the summer someone suggested, as a last minute thought, that it would be nice if someone could sit and hand stitch while the show was going on so visitors could see work in progress and ask questions.

Well, given the opportunity to sit and sew for two days solid, I jumped at the chance and volunteered immediately.

Of course this being the very last minute I then had to rapidly rack my brains and my shelves for something to take and stitch

The only piece of hand work I had on the go was my hexagon quilt and the thought of sitting with the bulk of that trailing on the dirty floor of the scout centre gathering the ground-in dust and dirt from generations of young boys' shoes didn't appeal at all - especially as the piece has a high proportion of cream.

So on the Friday night I sat down with a large piece of paper, drafted an abstract stained glass pattern and then traced it onto a cream backing - cream out of necessity as it was nice and easy to see the lines through - by now it was dark and too late to use the patio doors as my usual 'light box'

The piece you see above is the result of this - an abstract purple flower about 18" square

As I didn't have time to hunt out any black fabric I used commercial poly/cotton bias binding cut down in width and an assortment of odds and sods that were lying around for the colours. I wouldn't recommend using the commercial binding as it was very closely woven and hence an absolute pig to stitch but I persevered and got there in the end.

I worked on it throughout the show and completed it over a few days the following week while my parents were down. My mum took a real shine to it.

So I think I shall make it up into a cushion and, devising another similar one to match, will give them to her and dad for Christmas. After all what do you give retired parents who have everything?


One ufo out of the way and a Christmas present off the list :o) after all girls it is only just over three months away!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A bit of a creative desert

I've come to a bit of a hiatus as far as stitching is concerned

I have several (or should that read seventy times several?) projects on the go:

Sarah's blue bullseye which is overdue now as DH has finished decorating her bedroom.

Nick's Liverpool 'Tonya lettering' quilt which I've completed half the names for

My Ostrich which needs a whole load of hand applique that I would usually delight in settling down to do

My Hexagon quilt which needs all the part hexagons for round the edge putting on - I can understand why I don't want to pick this up as they are a real pain to do but it wouldn't take very long if I put my mind to it

My scrappy bullseye - the top's complete, I have a recipient in mind for it although she doesn't know she'll receive it even though she's admired it several times - this just needs sandwiching to get it ready for machine quilting

The little green, pink and white friendship star cot quilt I played with much earlier on my blog

Lots of other UFO's that are sitting in boxes in the loft which haven't been unpacked since the move a year ago on Saturday

I just can't get myself motivated

My sewing area looks like a bomb has hit it - I know it would only take me a couple of hours or so to tidy it all up and DH would really like me to do so as he's almost ready to start work on putting in my lovely new worktop, moving the radiator etc

Maybe having to concentrate and get into the rhythm of my new job is taking up most of my mental energy

Also all the kids' activities on weekday evenings are in full swing so I often don't get back in the house to lock the door and forget the outside world until 9pm - doesn't leave much stitching time when I go to bed between 10.30 and 11.00 and like to spend a bit of time with DH as well

Plus Sarah's rugby coach is expecting a baby in about 4 - 5 weeks time and Sarah would really like me to make her a baby quilt - but, wait for it............ it's a boy and she thinks the quilt should be in the rugby club colours of white, burgundy and black! - not pressing any buttons for me I'm afraid.

Also money's very tight in the Bebbs household this year so I thought I'd get fired up and make some quilty Christmas presents for people - can't even get my head around those - bluuugh!

So in the absence of anything productive to show you I've added three more quilts from our show plus a lovely stained glass design I've picked up somewhere on the net as I've been browsing and squirrelled away in my 'Quilt Ideas' picture file for future reference.

I think it would make a lovely quilt centre if I could only get the impetus to have a go!!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Group Challenge

The quilt group I belong to re-convened for the autumn term this morning. It was lovely to catch up again with all the other ladies and exchange summer stories.

The last meeting we had was about a month ago, the day after our show in August.

At this meeting one of the ladies brought in a box of precut 3.5" squares in two types of dark brown patterned cotton - you can see examples of them in one of the photos. Very 70's and not the prettiest fabrics you'd see.

They had been given to her along with a pile of stuff donated for fundraising in aid of the local hospice. The box was quite large and there were lots and lots of pieces in there.

We spent a little time deliberating what should be done with them as it was felt they would probably languish unselected in the Hospice's thrift shop and eventually get thrown away.

So as everyone was looking but not suggesting I took the bull by the horns and challenged everyone to take some home and come back with a block which would eventually be joined together into a quilt for the Hospice to use for fundraising or whatever. Everyone who took some squares put in £1 towards the Hospice and took them home to work their own particular magic

The block requirements were - any type of block; 12.5" unfinished; must use both brown patterned fabrics somewhere; one other colour plus cream fabric allowed within the block

The picture of four blocks shows you a selection of the blocks returned - isn't it funny how people given squares can often only see squares - but they are returned and fit the criteria (we may have to do a little adjustment on size but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it).

Ultimately we'll probably sash them with cream 1.5 - 2" sashings and cornerstones in one of the patterned browns

The one with the hexagons is my first contribution - it looks a little odd as it's all appliqued on but not actually cut to size yet as I can't get near the cutting mat.

I quite fancy having a go at a foundation pieced block and maybe a dresden plate too - we'll see! What would you do with 3.5" squares of ugly brown 70's patterned fabric? It'll certainly be interesting to see what everyone comes up with.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Officially a Maverick and a life in France

I'll apologise profusely first of all for these photos being in no particular order - I just can't get my head round blogger at all

Speaking of not getting my head around Blogger, the best part of a month ago Bonnie and Tonya very generously asked me if I'd like to join the Quilt Mavericks ring. I felt honoured to be asked and agreed immediately. Of course being a total Technophobic computer-numpty it has taken all this time along with numerous emails and finally Bonnie rescued me and set up the Mavericks ring logo on my blog. So now I'm officially a Quilt Maverick and very happy to be part of it - I'll have to keep coming up with quilt ideas slightly outside the box to continue earning my membership :o) This is why I included the picture of James Garner (tenuous link) - I used to love that TV programme as a youngster, if I tried I could probably still sing the signature tune - aren't you glad I'm sufficiently computer incompetent to not be able to add sound to this blog???

A week or so ago Dordogne quilter asked me when and where we'd lived in France so I googled the place name and came up with their website - it is all in French obviously but if you're sufficiently curious you might like to have a gander - the button for Visiter Loon Plage will take you to the pictures

The photos above show general pictures of the village centre, the play area to the side of our house and the floral display at the end of our street. The village of about 7000 souls boasted at least 4 play areas like this which had both little kids stuff like this and big kids football/basketball courts and skate board ramps. There were also several beautiful floral displays like the train one dotted about too - lovely!

We lived over in France for six months over the winter and spring of 2001/2

Nigel took a job with a Danish company at one of their European Distribution depots in the very North Eastern part of France between Calais and Dunkerque in October 2001. He commuted weekly until we moved lock stock and barrel to join him at the beginning of December. We jumped in literally at the deep end - the only English family the village had ever hosted - after all usually Brits who move to France either live in Paris or head for the warmer more southerly climes. The children settled straight into French schools and I kept house for the family experimenting cooking with French ingredients and trying to make myself understood in Le Banc etc as people en masse refused to admit they could speak any English and the 25 year old O Level school French that I thought would stand me in excellent stead proved to be woefully inadequate - still all our linguistic skills improved rapidly.

We had just begun to feel like we were getting our feet under the table when Nigel's employers announced they were restructuring and he would be jobless from the end of February - GULP!

We spent a very worrying few weeks until we found out they were prepared to pay to repatriate us - paying for that ourselves would have bankrupted us. Sadly we hadn't been there long enough nor was Nigel's French of sufficient standard for redeployment to make staying an option.

Someone's hand must have been on our shoulder when we made arrangements to leave the UK as we had only rented out our house, not sold. However we had to wait until our tenants vacated at the end of May to return to Gloucester

We were very very sorry to leave as we'd really started to like the life out there and even almost 5 years later still feel very cheated over the whole situation.

As a family we view ourselves as Europeans and we went with the intentions of giving the children the opportunity to grow up bilingual - a very useful lifeskill for their employment opportunities - plus we felt that without that expensive travel barrier of the Channel we would be able to spend our spare time travelling through Europe seeing more of the world.

Alas it was not to be then but there are positive points - our children will never be afraid to go anywhere - moving to Somerset was a breeze by comparison

Would we go again? - you bet your life we would, for the right package at the right time

But, at present, with the children at the ages and school stage they are it will be sunny Somerset for us for the forseeable future

Well almost my first week done :o)

Well this week has turned into a very pleasant whirlwind

The three children - posing here on holiday in Devon - unusual to get a really good one of all three of them without one making bunny ears behind anothers head or pulling a face! - are all back and settled well into school.

Despite our reservations the two youngest are coping brilliantly being in the same class - I suppose with 35 children it isn't too difficult to find space away from each other when necessary.

DD1 is starting her big two GCSE years and finding it all a bit daunting, tears, strops and gentle lack of self-belief have surfaced this week - lots of encouragement, empathy and pep talking from us parents been happening and will no doubt continue for a while

Personally I can't remember any of that self doubt - too damned cocky for my own good probably - but I'm sure there is much more pressure on kids to do well these days and I'm not sure if we, as a nation, have actually pitched the approach to that at quite the right level. Still all you can do is go with the flow, encourage and empower, and provide a fun relaxing home and out of school environment to ease their way into adulthood. Nobody tells you any of this at ante-natal classes though do they?

My job seems to have started well, of course it's early days, but having a four hour day with minimal travelling is really lovely as I can fit in chores like hanging out washing and preparing tea around it. I feel like a complete novice and in some ways I am as my experience is limited but the school is aware of all that and took me on on that basis. They are encouraging me to ask for all the help I need and letting me go on any course I find that is relevant so what more can you ask for?

The lady I share the office is an untidy monkey - and that's being kind - this will gently have to change but she's a really nice person, seems totally amenable to being organised and appears to welcome any gentle overtures I've hinted about reorganisation so again what more can you ask for?

The fabric I've pictured above is four fat quarters of hand dyed cotton I picked up at the craft fair on holiday. They were in a basket of at least 50 different pieces and had I not had the Ober-leutnant of Capital Expenditure breathing over my shoulder I could have easily have brought the lot home!

The colours of these four don't match at all and I've no idea what I shall use any of them for but they were just so delicious I don't care and will be happy to get them out and just stroke them from time to time until inspiration kicks in :o)

I particularly love the orange/yellow and could have bought a bolt if it had been there - I'm never usually a citrus colour person but this really did appeal

Quilting wise it's been very quiet over the past few days - last weekend saw me complete any machining I shall do on my Ostrich. This is as big as it gets! But there is lots of applique to do and I can pick that up in dribs and drabs in an evening chipping away at it gradually - the picture's a little distorted as my little elves are at school and the wind wasn't playing ball but you get the drift :o)

Right I'd better put out that second load of washing before I get changed and go to work - day off tomorrow and Monday - Yippee!