Thursday, June 28, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Going back to before my youngest started school almost six years ago we said a fond farewell to the mums and toddlers group I'd been going to for nine years with one or another or more of my three kids
It was held at a local evangelical church each Wednesday afternoon and was (and still is) run by the members of the congregation, partly as an outreach of the church, and partly as a facility for local families. It was more than your usual mums and toddlers, they helped if you were ill, sent a present for any newborn arrival in your family and were massively supportive to me when I had post-natal depression after the birth of my youngest
We'd had some very happy memories and I was so sad to stop going once mine had all gone to big school.
Not surprisingly the group was called 'Noah's Ark' so I made them a Noah's Ark wallhanging as a thankyou for all the support, fun and fellowship they'd given our family over the years.
The only photo I have of the finished object is on paper and as our scanner isn't working I can't really give you a particularly clear picture of it
The whole thing measured about 2'6" wide by 4' tall and had Noah's Ark buttons fastening the top tabs
The animals, rainbow, sun and ark were all hand appliqued and the creatures all came from various animal fabrics I had in my stash
Originally when I decided to make a wallhanging I thought about paper piecing various animals but only got as far as completing the panda - that took long enough and I felt sure I would lose the will to live if I were to make a whole arkfull hence changing to plan B to go down the applique route.
As far as I know it still hangs up in the stairwell of the church, nicely out of direct sunlight but where all the children can see as they go to do messy activities in the lower room.
The other day on rooting through one of my craft drawers one of the children pulled out the poor little orphaned panda from the original plan A - he didn't even have any facial features then
I merrily drew his face and thought he'd make a splendid start for another kiddies quilt for the Womens' Refuge
And here we are so far - it now measures about 2'6" across so I'll have to persuade someone to go into the loft and retrieve some more bright green, red and yellow fabric while they're up there looking for my little blue dutch fabrics to enable me to make it grow to a more useable 4ft square.
It's always nice to make something out of newly re-discovered treasure
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Work is driving me mad and really getting me down at present - I was under the misguided impression that, after the year end, things would become easier to understand. They are, but only marginally, and I still feel like I'm perpetually wading through treacle. I'm not going to bore you with the details but the longer I work there the less I like this feeling of rudderless, minimal, snailpace progress. The only redeeming feature is that most of the people I work with are lovely but the Head drives me nuts!!! The job suits me because of the term time hours but to be truthful unless I start feeling like I know what I'm doing I will only stick it for as long as it suits me until the youngest are old enough to not need me all through the school holidays.
Because of this I've been feeling pretty blue and stitching has not been high on the agenda. But I shall stop whinging now and talk about something a bit more positive.
I have been able to spend a little time in the evenings doing some blue-work.
You might recall Finn showing us a lovely book from the thirties about children and drawing.
One of the pages she showed us had a pair of Dutch children (sorry can't seem to get a link on this - you'll have to scroll back to June 3rd)
I fell in love with this and asked her permission to reproduce them in stitchery. She very kindly scanned them and emailed me a larger more workable version
Here it is.....
Thank you Finn - you're a sweetheart :o)
I have two pieces of fabric I bought at a patchwork shop on a visit to Amsterdam about 3 years ago. One has a white background and the other mid blue. They feature little pictures of Dutch children, windmills and tulips and I've never found the ideal project to use them in - they're just too nice to get swallowed up with the general blues.
Anyway this is the perfect opportunity to use them with the stitchery children to make a 'delft' style wallhanging.
Once I've persuaded DH to locate them in the loft I'll post a photo and then all I have to do is decide how to use them all together.
Still on the subject of 'blue' - you might remember me writing about the death of Cicely , the lady who founded our quilt group in October last year.
Her friend Anne has been going through her UFO's and came across a sweet little blue crib quilt top which she brought to the group the other week to see if anyone would like to finish it and donate it to a charity.
I offered to complete it and donate it to the local womens' refuge - I'm sure they occasionally get ladies with babies and this will be just the ticket. A quick all over large meander and some shirting stripe for the binding had it finished in a jiffy before tea this afternoon. It will be great to see it going to a good home.
And on a brighter note it's the season of silly hats again - Royal Ascot
Why would anyone want to walk around with a bright red petrol pump on their head??????? If there are any other ridiculous creations I'll share them with you as the week progresses.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I did put the stars together but can't decide what fabric to use for the border - plus I don't like cutting long borders so put off doing them as long as I can - next to sandwiching it's my least favourite job
I've also been cracking on with the blue stitchery work I showed you in my new basket - first half done, second half to start, but I want to keep that as a surprise until it's completely stitched
However I thought I'd give you a visual treat
Here is the very first quilty postcard I've ever received - it's been sent inside a plastic sleeve to keep it from any post office sorting machine sabotage so there is a bit of sheen and reflection in the picture
McIrish Annie asked me for the instructions for my confetti quilt
I sent her them plus a little pin keeper in the snail mail and had this lovely postcard in return
Thank you Annie, it is beautiful and made in my mostest bestest favouritest colour too - how did you guess?
I've not succombed to the postcard making bug yet - but who knows...................
Monday, June 11, 2007
It's dark wood and has two leaves and opens out to around 30" x 60" ish but when the leaves are down it only takes up a foot print of 30" x 8" - perfect for storage in a small flat.
The basket it's sitting in was a bargain from a shop we have that I think is peculiar to Taunton - Chaplins. It's a homeware store that sells anything from garden plants to wetsuits, party wigs to teapots and a whole range of other stuff in between.
I was in there yesterday looking for a pack of thistle seed to keep the very hungry goldfinches that frequent our garden happy. Unusually they didn't have the seed but I did find this basket for £3.99 and it will match my lounge perfectly in a futile attempt to stop my 'in progress' stitching migrating around the room - yes okay don't laugh - you have to at least try to make an effort!
Have a good stitchy day everyone :o)
Saturday, June 09, 2007
I suppose I am a little sad that the arthritis I suffer from in my fine joints has turned my hands into something you might be more likely to see dipping an apple into a cauldron of poison in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
However the thing about my misshapen fingers that annoys me, more than how they look, is the pain I suffer from them quite a lot of the time. I would be devastated if it deteriorated to the point where it affected my stitching.
So much so, that this week I decided to return to my doctor to see if there was anything else they might recommend.
It was a very interesting conversation.
I had previously thought the pain was caused by using them too much doing handwork - all that stitching!
However as we chatted she pointed out that the pain wasn't actually from too much movement, more from too little - inactivity and them seizing up.
As I thought about what she'd said I realised she had a very good point. After all when we're stitching either by machine or by hand we really don't actually move our joints to any great extent - rather we grip our work and the needle and hold our hands fairly rigid in one particular position. Multiply this rigid state by several hours a day (if we're lucky to be able to get that much stitching in) is it any wonder the joints whinge and complain?
So, her solution was, rather than stitching all the time thereby keeping the joints rigid, instead, using something like a stress ball or a dog's soft ball, repeatedly work the joints at regular intervals to keep them supple and aid their movement, hence reducing the inflammation and pain
So far I've not remembered to try and source a stress ball so, when my youngest came down from tidying her bedroom with this wonderful red lip shaped cushion filled with those miniscule polystyrene beads (about a pen tip size each), I realised it would be an excellent substitute. It offers just the right amount of resistance when squidged.
I've been having a jolly good squidge of it at regular intervals throughout today and strangely enough my fingers feel a little better already
I suppose it stands to reason - if you have a stiff hip which gives you great pain on getting up after being sat for a long while, but then as you walk around loosens up and becomes less painful - why shouldn't the same apply to your fingers
So the moral of the story is - if you too have sore joints, try giving them a little bit of regular exercise against something with some resistance and see if it improves them.
In amongst all that squidging I have got some quantity of stitching done today
I've machine quilted in the ditch around the purple star components and then echo quilted all the stitchery - you can probably get a vague idea from this picture but the lighting isn't great.
I guess that's on the list for the morning!
Friday, June 08, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I was very lucky and won a prize in the raffle - this lovely fat quarter of very unusual leaf fabric has already got the creative imagination buzzing away working on a mid green and sand colour scheme for another quilt - after all I've no others in the cupboard still to finish - NOT!
We also had some fabric for sale - the local Oxfam charity shop often receives ends of rolls of fabric which they try, not always successfully, to sell for a measly 50p per yard. I suppose you don't often get people looking for fabric from the roll in charity shops.
Anyway one of our committee members offered to try and sell it at our meeting for £1 per yard - half to Oxfam and half to the group.
Most of the fabric was poly-cotton - fine for the back of say Women's Refuge charity quilts - but there were the odd few rolls of 100% cotton.
I managed to obtain over a yard of the dark blue stripe and well over three yards of the turquoise gingham - when I say the measurements they were pretty rough because the ladies were, with everyone's agreement, measuring with the old standard 'nose to finger tip' method. All this for the princely sum of £4. With £1 for the strip of raffle tickets I came home with an armful of treasure for a fiver :o)
It would appear that the charity shop gets in this sort of fabric quite regularly so who knows there may be more on the horizon.
Originally I drew the little stars with a single dot in the middle, but once I started I thought I'd rather have a pair of french knots in each star so it looked like the holes in the middle of a button.
One or two people have asked me which stitch I'm using and I have to tell you it's neither back stitch, stem stitch nor chain stitch. A few months ago, when I was looking at redwork patterns on the internet, I came across as article I've never been able to relocate which describes 'winchester stitch'. In trying to find the article again I've come across lots of other 'dictionaries of stitches' where this same stitch is called 'split stitch' or Kensington outline stitch. Basically it's a back stitch that is worked into the previous stitch instead of meeting it. Essentially you enter your needle into the stitch you've worked before thus splitting the old stitch. If it's done neatly it does give the effect of a very fine chain stitch and is wonderful for going round corners and odd shapes. It's very quick and effective.
And finally here's another little piece of nonsense that I've stitched this past week too - lilac's definitely the flavour of the moment, but this time on cream. It seems I've caught the stitchery bug!
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Does it really need any more stitchery?
Probably not - it looked quite happy to stand alone with no more decoration. I even got to the point of cutting the wadding and backing fabric to size ready for pinning.
But then the twitching of the stitching hand took over and I decided that enough is never enough.
I did consider using the same coloured floss for these and then decided I'd quite like to pick out the more pinkish parts of the plaid instead.
I'm not sure yet if this colour will work, it's too soon to tell, but I reckon that by the time I've stitched the whole thing it would probably have been total overkill in the bluer shade of the large stars.
Not that it won't be overkill anyway - but hey, I'm enjoying working on it - after all it is only a 'white elephant cover'!
Friday, June 01, 2007
I was considering putting some applique in the spaces within and between the stars until May Britt suggested some stitchery - if you follow the link just look at the beautiful navy blue and white table runner on today's post with the stitchery ivy garland all around it - fabulous!
I'm so pleased with them that I don't think I'll stop there - I might do some little stars in a sort of garland between the pieced stars - ideas are bubbling in the back of my mind and should come to fruition just as I finish the star centres.
I finally got round to sending 'Spencer's Stars' off to my brother and his wife this week.
He phoned last night to say they were totally blown away by it.
I had to reassure him that it was fine to use and not just put away as too precious. He was a tad sceptical when I said it would go through the washing machine but I managed to reassure him so I think they will use this one!
Thank goodness, after all that work, that I seem to have hit exactly the right spot!