Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas stitchery progress

With Nigel away it's left to me to do all the fetching and carrying of kids and whatever else might need transporting about ie work mail, groceries etc.
However I have managed to stitch away on this work 'secret santa' gift and am almost at the end of the stitchery design - I'm showing you two photos, one with flash and one without because I couldn't decide which was the truest.
I've just used an assortment of all the reds and dark greens I had in my thread boxes - a legacy from many years of cross stitching, before I discovered quilting - and it's strange how the colours have almost gravitated towards their own spectrum mates.
To save me having to do a battle royal with metallic threads for the gold stars and candle flame I thought I'd experiment with two different shades of ordinary stranded floss. The two little cards at the bottom are the colours I used and I'm delighted with the result.
Once this is completed, probably this evening, I'm not sure what to do next with it.
I think I might just add a border and bind it making it into a wall hanging - too much fancy piecing might make it a bit busy and unwieldy - the jury's still out - we'll see....................

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Quilting Babes Strike Again!

The girls were back on form last night and for the first time ever completed a block in one session.

Mind you I did help with some of the rotary cutting or we may have been here still this morning

A churn dash block each - simple(ish) but effective. As for Sarah's foundation pieced block, she only has to put the four quarters together and that's another one under her belt - however last night she was so tired that I thought there was a very real danger of her stitching over her fingers so persuaded her to do this last little bit of block construction tonight instead - you may even get to see it tomorrow at long last after all the promising.

With the girls the one thing I find hardest is standing back and giving them free rein regarding fabric and colour placement - I have to remember that they're their quilts they're making not mine and the choices are not mine to make. Lots of tongue biting from me - a good lesson to learn methinks

As usual in and amongst there was a bit of tomfoolery and light hearted banter.

Megan found this old waistcoat of Sarah's (aged 5-6 years) amongst the fabrics and decided she'd like to wear it instead of cut it up - I thought it was perfect for the centre square of the churn dash block but the skinny little minx thought it much more fun to pour herself into it and parade round posing but hardly being able to breathe - kids eh?!?

Yesterday was a busy day at work - my close colleague Trish had picked up something unpleasant from the kids and wasn't in so I ended up working 8.45 to 3 - longer than my usual day and very tiring but I did find out who my Secret Santa recipient in the work draw will be and I like to think this lady will love something Christmassy and home-made - we started working at the school on the same day and so have often supplied each other with a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic listening ear.

I made this pattern up myself and started stitching it last night in front of the tv.

I thought I'd better return to the bright spotty stars quillow too and work out what still needs doing - so I laid it out on the floor and concluded that I'll still have to do a few more smaller stars and some applique sashings. However looking at it laid out like this I can start to see a completion on the horizon - even if that horizon is a bit distant at present.

Finally I'm feeling a little left at home again - Nigel is heading off on an unexpected visit to Belgium this evening until Thursday and will drive with a colleague through the tunnel instead of flying.

While I'm envious, as usual, of his wanderings it does mean he can pick up some useful Christmas shopping from the French hypermarket on his way back and some perfume for part of Sarah's Christmas stocking.

I get to have a quiet couple of evenings stitching and no-one keeping me awake snoring for two nights - every cloud has a silver lining.........................

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Now I really should've been doing something else

Going back to when I made my Autumn quilt for the Four Seasons you may recall I had those dratted little HSTs which I just couldn't get to fit along side the Oak Leaves stitchery

They've been sitting in a plastic bag ever since looking at me reproachfully daring me to do something else with them

I've seen one or two Bears Paw quilts around blogland and I really like the design and thought I'd use the HSTs for the claws

However they really do not want to play nicely no matter what I do with them - probably because they were cut on the bias and thus stretch like a piece of elastic!

Yesterday afternoon, once we'd got the house ready for the onslaught of the 12 year old boys, I dug into the cream and beige fabrics I'd already pulled out for my brother's table runner

This idea was an itch I was going to have to scratch come what may - and I obviously wasn't going to rest until I'd done it

So I discarded the original HSTs and made some fresh which didn't stretch like a bungee cord

And here's the result - measuring in at just under 15" square for the total item

Now I've completed the top which is a bit neutral and boring for my tastes I've gone off the idea and I've not got a clue when I shall quilt it - but the itch is now thoroughly scratched! I should have been continuing with Christmas stitching but I just had to play at something else.

The sleepover was, as predicted, a wakeover! I'd no idea that 12 year old boys could giggle like a bunch of girls. Nigel lost the plot at 1.30am and went down and growled menacingly so we could at least get some sleep. Still despite this they had a great time.

Here are the motley crew looking a little jaded waiting collection by their parents after breakfast.

Sarah had a rugby match this afternoon but Nick had a free week as they were ousted from the cup competition in the last round. This meant that Nige and I could both watch the rugby and Sarah played well putting one try and three conversions on the scoreboard (11 points from the 36 - 5 final score). It also stayed fine and dry which was a bonus for the spectators

Tonight I sat and finished off the PIF gifts I promised some time ago - I've already posted one to Wales earlier this week but there are two still to go to Liverpool and Finland. It's obviously taken me so long that this scheme is actually doing the rounds again. I thought I'd better get mine completed and posted before I dare think about signing up for it again if I do bother to.

I wish this was actually 'Smellablog' as these smell delicious - they contain allspice berries, cinnamon bark and whole cloves. A gorgeous wintry smell which increases if they get warm. Great to put under a casserole dish on the table or to rest on the top of an aga or a woodburning stove.

The two spare ones may well go out with my Christmas presents to members of my family who haven't had one yet - if there are any family members in that category. However if someone in blogland has really taken a fancy to them I'd happily do a swap of one for some fabric.

On another note some of you very kind bloggers mailed food labels and advertising leaflets to Sarah a little while ago for her Food Technology project.

The deadline is looming and she's now started pulling the whole thing together.

The project is about Multi-Cultural Food and the photo shows some of the collage borders she will attach to the left hand side of each of her sheets in the project. She's mounted the labels etc onto black paper and then cut each ensemble out leaving a thin black border down the edge where she'll attach them to the white sheets.

They look so crisp and colourful and it's all down to you guys - you know who you are - thank you so much for your help.

I'm into work tomorrow for a change as Lou has a teacher training day on Friday so I've swapped my day off to look after her then - not sure what we'll get up to on that day but I believe there's a quilt exhibition in Radstock over near Bath for which Friday is the final day - it would be nice to do something for me for once - we'll see, I'd better check out the details, it's a bit of a hike if I've got the dates wrong.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lots of tiny steps make great strides

I guess it must be the run up to Christmas - but maybe it's just the age our kids are

Life seems to be one continuous race around a hamster wheel

I'm not complaining, I'm really enjoying life. My perception of my job and all it entails seems to finally be falling into place. Nigel is enjoying his work. The kids are all happy busy and content, okay Sarah has some pressure on her regarding ongoing coursework and looming exams but she seems to be coping just fine.
However it might be nice to have a little breathing space now and again :o)
In and amongst all this I've got lots of sewing done.
I don't feel to have had any big chunk of time to just sit and sew but I've obviously been chipping away at the list of things to do in and amongst everything else.
These are the star blocks (Dutchman's Puzzle) my quilting babes completed the other week. Sarah's foundation pieced block is still under construction so I can't show it yet.
The table runner for DB & DSIL is undergoing the applique to finish it to flimsy stage
I dashed off some more spotty and bright sawtooth stars for one of the quillows - I keep chipping away at this and realised that I'd have to put a good number of larger stars into it or I might be still stitching sawtooth stars this time next year!
And for my sister and my friend I'm working on something Christmassy - stitchery hearts appliqued on background fabric - then it's wait and see what I'll do with them, but it did involve a quick trip to the local haberdashery shop for red and green ribbons which were in short supply at home
Nigel headed off on the train for Bath this morning as he has an invite from one of his suppliers to watch the Bath v Bristol rugby match this afternoon with a sumptuous meal and after dinner speaker before hand - lucky boy!
Nick has his birthday sleepover (read that as wakeover) tonight so the house will be full of 11 and 12 year old boys from about 4pm - that'll keep my girls on their toes. The boys are all sleeping in the lounge below our bedroom tonight so I hope they're not too noisy
As for me I hope to fit in a bit of sewing around all this - catching it in more bite sized pieces I guess - all the tiny steps will get me there in the end

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What a whirlwind few days........

Last weekend saw Nigel and I as 'super-hero-sports-supporters'!!!

Cubs swimming gala for Lou on Saturday afternoon where she got a first and a third place. Nice for her to be centre of attention instead of her elder siblings for a change.
County rugby match on Sunday afternoon for Sarah where she converted one try so getting her name on the scoresheet - they drew against the Cornwall side 12-12. Had Sarah taken the first conversion instead of the #10 who just can't place kick they would've won - hindsight is always 20/20 - I think the coach learned his lesson on that one :o)
Club football match for Nick at the same time (made for an interesting afternoon for Nigel flitting between the two events) where he played in goal and was awarded Man of the Match - they won 3-2.
Cause for celebration for all three of them - we just went with the flow and fitted in food and birthday shopping as and where we could around it all!
Sarah was on her own for quilting on Monday as Megan had had a tooth out at hospital that morning.
We're now doing a beautiful Quilter's Cache Foundation Pieced Block. Once she's completed it I'll show you and put a link to the pattern - it's looking good!
Nick was 12 on Tuesday, that day after his daddy's 47th birthday and he'll have a birthday sleepover on Saturday or should that read wakeover?
Yesterday I was on a course for work all day giving me a clearer view of the bigger picture on school finances. Amazing how spending that day has shown me just why I do the tasks I do when I do them. All is now definitely clearer than mud or at least getting there - after all I've only been in post almost four terms.
Today will be a very strange day at work. County Hall had a total power failure yesterday - so bad that they sent all central staff home (we're talking about hundreds, possibly thousands of workers here) so I guess the lucky people got a day off to do their Christmas shopping.
The power won't be fully restored until probably Monday so I can't actually do anything on the Financial System at school - however there are loads of housekeeping type jobs that have been calling my name 'siren-like' from my trays which I now have no further excuse to ignore. This might just be a blessing in disguise.
My sister loved her birthday 'Dashing Horses' quilt - thank heavens - and she sweetly sent me a surprise gift too as she'd visited one of my favourite Yorkshire quilt shops on her way to see our parents the other weekend.
Four Christmas FQ's - I've started using the red and green already - unsure about the large patterned one - may use it in a large piece as a focus fabric in the centre of a table runner - we'll see!
And then these lovely rustic coloured FQs which she said she couldn't resist because of the colours - maybe I'll make that table runner reversible with these on the opposite side from the Christmas fabrics for her so she can use it all year round. I can't decide if the dark brown patterned really goes with the other three - I'm almost tempted to dig out a soft green instead to match the stalks and leaves on the other two patterned fabrics - that'll be another trip into the loft for my long suffering husband then :o)
Speaking of table runners, you may recall last year I made a very long narrow runner for my DB & DSIL using Christmas Flower Fairy fabric.
My SIL said how much she liked it and was reluctant to put it away once the Christmas season was over.
So this year I'm making them an all year round version to suit their mellow putty/beige/cream colour scheme.
Here are the starting blocks. QST's in the centre, that's brave for me!
So - I'll be off to work now then - maybe I'll get to show you progress on these projects later

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's wishing all my friends in Blogland, especially those from the USA, a very happy Thanksgiving.
Here in the UK we don't have anything really that equates to this holiday - maybe we should - it might make us appreciate the things we have to be thankful for. There's a lot to be said for being able to count your blessings. :o)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


It's okay - I'm still in the land of the living - just the very busy part of it. Lots of sewing done but with DD1 being so busy with her coursework so hogging the computer I've not had much chance to get near it. I will try and share some of my output with you later or over the next couple of days

As instructed by Donna our very own Secret Santa Elf please Secret Santa I'm requesting to the maker - please don't show my present, I'd like it to be a complete surprise as it'll be the only one I probably get.

To the same tune as my present is so receiver specific I don't intend to show it either - sorry girls. You'll just have to wait 'til Christmas morning.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Done and dusted and off in the post this morning

Before we start this is yesterday's post but Blogger wouldn't play nicely all day and only let me add my photos this morning........................

So here's my Monday posting -

What a morning - first of all DD2 is off school

She reckons she feels sick - I know it's just pure exhaustion as a result of cub camp followed by a hectic soft-play party yesterday.

However as one child on the camp was actually sick and two others in her class on Friday went home with a similar malady I've given her the benefit of the doubt and let her stay off school but she's in bed for the day - you have to almost have a leg hanging off in this house to get a day off school and she's not going to spend the day watching tv!

Then DD1 realised that we'd forgotten cardamom pods from the shopping list this weekend for today's food technology session

DH had also volunteered me to take two heavy bags of dirty rugby kit from yesterday's matches to the laundry over the other side of town

So I decided to just cut my losses and not go to quilting this morning and to risk leaving DD2 at home on her own for a short spell while I did my errand round.............

Supermarket for said cardamom pods - behind the slowest queue at the checkout - then couldn't get into my car because some elderly gent with a large jaguar had parked too close for me to open my driver's door. Fortunately he was just locking up his car as I arrived back at mine. His response to my exasperated look was 'Well I've parked centrally in my space' - the fact that he parked there so neatly after me in a very quiet car park with loads of empty spaces obviously was totally irrelevant.

So I gave him two alternatives, either he moved his car temporarily to allow me access to mine, because as it stood he was the only one of the two of us who could easily get into a drivers seat, or he risked me accidentally ramming the door of his beautifully polished car with my drivers side door as I attempted to shoehorn my reasonably generous behind into my car seat.

Fortunately for his car and my rapidly disappearing patience he moved his car.

Took said cardamom pods to school.

Drove over the other side of town to manhandle two large bags of dirty rugby shirts into the laundry front office - someone was smiling on me there as I did manage to get parked fairly close by so didn't have to walk too far with two very heavy loads.

Came back to the Post Office near home to post off my sister's parcel.

Got back into the house to find Louise coming down the stairs with my phone announcing that her sister had texted me to tell me she'd forgotten the rice for her cookery - GRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

So back in the car up to our local corner shop.

Purchase the very last packet of Basmati Rice (she's making a Chicken Korma curry today, she may be buried in it tonight!)

Take aforesaid rice to school where the receptionist gave me one of those lovely sympathetic smiles (having received the cardamom pods only 45 minutes earlier) which was balm to my soul - she's obviously well used to this sort of occurrence.

Now back home to write this and do a little stitching before I also have to nip into work for an hour or so just after lunch to get all the paperwork ready for a governor's finance meeting that I will have to return back there for at 5pm this evening.

In between these two visits to school I shall have a stitching session with my quilting teens to do a bit more on the DofE quilts.


The parcel I mentioned about a century ago earlier in the post was the birthday present for my sister.

Dashing Horses was completed on Saturday.

I would have quite liked to spend some time on intricate quilting but as time was exceedingly short it ended up with a large meander all over. Serviceable if not necessarily the most exquisite way to finish off the object.

I've also had the baby quilt I was making for her partner's baby grand-daughter sandwiched and ready to quilt since July - I've been postponing actually quilting it as my work surface was so littered with a deep pile of detritus that I daren't actually risk doing the quilting in case I inadvertedly dragged something along with it and quilted it to the back.

Anyway I cleared the surface off sufficiently to work on Dashing Horses so cracked on with the baby quilt too.

Again it would have been nice to work out a nice quilting pattern for this one too but needs must and it got the large meander treatment as well. At the moment finished is sufficient!

Both of them were packed into a sturdy box and as we speak they're winging their way off up to my sister's in Cumbria, hopefully in time for her birthday on Wednesday.

Finally now you've suffered this million mile an hour tirade I thought I'd share with you a mood of reflective peace.

This is the gorgeous sunset from the back of our house on Saturday evening. We're still enjoying gorgeous sunny days but it was cold enough to scrape ice from the car windscreens this morning. Winter is on its way.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Two down, one to go on the stitchery front

Well I've been busy stitching away each evening in front of the tv - in between taking Sarah to look round the local 6th form colleges for next year, GULP!

Still haven't got my sister's birthday quilt sandwiched but have a relatively free weekend to knock that on the head and post it out probably next Monday.

I've finished the stitchery work on two of my three basket liners for christmas presents

The one on the beige background is for my MIL.

The tulip one is for my mum - I've worked opposite sides in the same colour, red on two and yellow on the others

As for the one I have yet to do for my niece Gemma, I've drawn up something with lots of pretty swirls and flowers dotted around which looks a bit prettier and I think more suitable for someone younger

The Four Seasons Swap is open for signers for the winter quilts - I really enjoyed doing the autumn quilt I sent to Nadine in Belgium and really loved the one I received from Wendy in the US. I've already sent in my email and have lots of ideas buzzing around my head - I think it'll be difficult keeping them just as ideas until I've finished the Christmas stuff.

Go on sign up - they don't have to be sent out until next year :o)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dashing Horses - top complete..........

and now ready for the dreaded sandwiching - where is that sandwich fairy when you want her?

I've stitched on and off for most of the weekend - well during the daylight hours anyway.

And here is the result - the top for my sister's birthday quilt completed. I've christened it 'Dashing Horses' as the horses look like they're running and the block is a simplified 'churn dash'.

The 'shot-effect plains' by Rowan have been a right royal pain in the posterior - they fray when you look at them never mind cut or stitch.

However I am pleased with the end result even if I'll never, ever use this particular range of fabrics again!

The two younger ones were bored yesterday so decided that cup-cakes were the order of the day

- not sure about the colour of the icing mind you. But they did taste good and they made them with virtually no help from me - not bad for a 10 and 11 year old!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

All the way from Budapest

When I got home from work yesterday the postman had left a card through the door to tell me I had an item of post which I would have to sign for. Because I'd been out when he tried to deliver it this meant I would have to visit our local sorting office to collect it.

The only items I ever get which require a signature are bills so as you can imagine there was no way I was fighting my way through Taunton traffic on a Friday afternoon just to collect something which would cost me money.

However this morning Sarah needed dropping off in town to start work on an extra shift at 8.30. As I unlocked the front door I spied the postman's card on the hall table and realised that I could collect it in the same journey as the sorting office opens at 7am.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the sorting office to discover that it wasn't a bill but a parcel from Hungary.

The only person I know in Hungary is my fellow blogger Zita

As I was expecting a PIF gift from her at some point I could hardly contain my excitement and stop myself from opening the parcel in the car on the way home.

The wait until I got back to the house was definitely worth it.

Zita had shown on her blog recently a lovely little zipped bag with celtic knotwork on the sides. I'd admired this from afar but hadn't put two and two together to deduce that she was making it for me.

Here it is - even lovelier than the photos.

It's a bit difficult to get a decent picture as the design is definitely three dimensional so this is from a slightly different angle. I shall find it so useful for putting in the embroidery threads I'm using for a current project to take to my Monday quilting group.

Also in the parcel was a lovely postcard with views of Budapest which brought back lots of happy memories of my visit just over two years ago. Sadly I hadn't 'met' Zita on blogland back then - wouldn't it have been fun to meet up and talk quilting if we'd known each other when I visited.

Finally, when we were in Budapest I admired the beautiful traditional hungarian blue dyed fabric but as time and cash were short I didn't actually purchase any - I've regretted this ever since.

So imagine my delight to find two pieces of this fabric in the parcel too. The photograph doesn't do this fabric justice despite me taking it in the conservatory in good daylight. The blue is such a beautiful distinctive shade.

Thank you so much Zita - what a lovely start to the weekend.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sorry guys - we were obviously on a different wavelength!

Sorry folks - when I asked for your opinion I obviously didn't explain myself properly.
The thing I couldn't decide on was whether this block works with the burgundy background regardless of the other solid colour - I'd always intended to use a variety of fabrics. Initially it looked strange to me as I'd just finished stitching a load of I-spy blocks in brights with a white background.
Anyway now I've done four of the dratted things I think it will probably work as long as I can keep my teeth gritted long enough to put together a total of 25 as the fabric is a complete pain to work with.
I was going to sash it in the burgundy and use the other colours as cornerstones......... but I do have a bigger piece of the greenish beige piece you see as second down in the fabrics on the right. So I shall sash in that and use the burgundy for the cornerstones instead - the sashings will probably be either 1.5" or 2" width.
I think the dark green and brighter burgundy at the bottom of the selection probably won't give sufficient contrast for the blocks so will probably leave them out of the equation altogether.
Things have started to get very busy indeed at school for the next few weeks so I'm pretty tired each evening but I have been cracking on with the stitchery - pictures to follow.
Just have to keep on stitching...............