Monday, July 31, 2006

Typical! - cameras never lie

Well ours couldn't even if it wanted to......

Would you just believe this?

I drag 'Flightless Beauty' up the stairs and arrange it artfully on our bed (for this operation read square it up evenly and smooth it out), give the bedside tables a cursory tidy (which equates to stuffing all the extra bits and bobs into the top drawer and straightening anything left like the radio alarm) - after all we really don't do tidy in this house, well only enough to get by, after all it takes up valuable quilting time.

Then I hobble back down the stairs for the camera (sore achilles on the right foot - but not bad enough to stop me pressing the sewing machine pedal you understand) and return to take the shot..........

NOTHING!........... the square root of zilch! ............. won't even fire up Poo and double poo!

Think the battery is flat, it did this to us the other day at Longleat Safari Park as well, right at the giraffes - my favourite! Try and change the lead in case that's faulty - DD1's mobile phone one doesn't fit - typical! Will have to wait until Senior Electrician #1 returns from work tonight (alias DH) as he's IC this sort of thing

Starting to feel a little concerned as it is the Quilt Show this weekend and we're on holiday for a week the weekend after - plus really can't begin to think about funding the purchase of a replacement if necessary

So to cheer myself up I browsed through my old photos and sought out something I'd not shown you before.

This black white and red quilt was a UFO. DD2, when she was quite small was heavily into 101 dalmations - we have a veritable boarding kennels worth of the stuffed variety spread liberally between her bedroom and the loft (don't tell the RSPCA I keep those up there in black bin liners instead of kennels)

She wanted a 'dalmation' bedroom and a black and white quilt to match - the bedroom never got that far on the decorating front and the quilt stayed as a UFO with only 16 blocks made and stitched together because as fickle as small girls can be - the next infatuation was Barbie PINK!!! (you can't really describe that particular colour quietly can you)

Then a close friend's daughter mentioned she liked black, white and red so I decided to drag it out and complete it

It was a bit lacklustre just as the blocks so I appliqued red kites with loose ribbons dangling from them and 3D little bows along the strings.

Then I put a few prairie points in red between the blocks and the border and quilted it in lines of kite strings with bows along them in red thread

A checkered and red binding completed the ensemble ....Voila!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

One Word

This is a meme I've spotted on several blogs over the past day or two - I found limiting my answers to a single word damned nigh impossible - as my father would say 'I've been vaccinated with a gramophone needle' - I reckon I just have verbal diarrhoea.

One Word for -
1. Yourself: productive
2. Your partner: dependable
3. Your hair: titian
4. Your Mother: rocklike
5. Your Father: frail
6. Your favorite item: butterflies
7. Your dream last night: forgotten
8. Your favorite drink: lemon-squash
9. Your dream home: spacious
10. The room you are in: multi-purpose
11. Your pleasure: family
12. Your fear: ill-health
13. Where you want to be in ten years: here
14. Who you hung out with last night: husband
15. What you're not: skinny
16. Your best friends: husband
17. One of your wish list items: longevity
18. Your gender: female
19. The last thing you did: grocery-shopping
20. What you are wearing: comfortable
21. Your favorite weather: Spring
22. Your favorite book: current one
23. Last thing you ate: cheesy-biscuits
24. Your life: frenetic
25. Your mood: focussed
26. The last person you talked to on the phone: Dad
27. Who you are thinking about right now: parents

Okay - go on as difficult as it is - have a go........

July's Ostrich effort

As I've been so busy over the last few weeks with 'Flightless Beauty' - my Ostrich Challenge' from last year -I've not had any time to dedicate to my current 'Ostrich'.

For those of you recent visitors an 'Ostrich' Challenge is like a round robin but flightless as you do all the work yourself and you have the chance to 'stick your head in the sand' and opt out of one month only if you so desire. This one is being run by a UK Yahoo quilting group I belong to and you have to post a photo each month to receive the following month's instructions

From previous posts you may recall I've foolishly decided to do two this year - one a sofa throw and the other a wall hanging. Last month the challenge was Quarter Square Triangles which I proudly posted my paltrey efforts. This month was stars.

As you can see from the above 'in progress' picture of the sofa throw I've managed to attach those four QST's at the corners - big deal - but for me it's a challenge as I hate piecing and particularly matching points! Not surprisingly I shall work some applique between them on the cream and grey backgrounds - this will most likely be Celtic Knotwork to tie in with the centre although I can't decide on a common colour for both and I haven't enough of the grey to do mirror images.

The single solitary uneven (deliberately) star will be joined by several cream mates dotted around the July round on the turquoise background.

These two rounds will most probably have one or more thin borders between them and the butterflies from further into the centre of the piece might just breed and dance a little further out into the quilt.

The little 4" blocks for the wallhanging are still in the planning stage - they may or may not be completed by the end of this month

It can hardly claim to be my finished July effort but as I've been so tied up with it's last year mate I think this month I should get away with completing it later - now I wonder what August's challenge will be.........

PS - I haven't forgotten to photograph the Flightless Beauty - I should get round to that this afternoon

Saturday, July 29, 2006

STOP PRESS!!! - 'The Brute' is finished

Just a very quick announcement - at 12.40 last night I put the final stitch into 'The Brute' which will now be officially known by its Sunday title of 'Flightless Beauty'

Got to dash - will post a photo later today once I've had the chance to take one

The relief at finishing it is ENORMOUS!!!!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

This calls for a very special quilt

I had a call from my baby brother the other day - he's nine years and five days my junior.

He and his wife are making me an auntie again - yippee! My only other real niece and nephew (ie mine not DH's) are almost 19 and 16 so it's a while since we've had a new baby on our side of the family - nine and a half years since Monster #3 to be precise - shown here in the white and maribou directly in front of her elder sister , the middle one in the burgundy - they both do clean up quite well. This was taken at my brother's wedding two years ago in October.

I'm pretty certain I posted this quilt photo almost as soon as I started blogging - it shows the wedding quilt I made for them which is all hand appliqued celtic knotwork.

As you can imagine I shall have to come up with something pretty special for a baby quilt to follow it - still as they've only just found out and I probably have 'til March or April I have a while to do something really nice - now ................... ideas?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Three Down One To Go!

Well this one has been a real bitch to do! It's always difficult working on somebody else's creation whether it be a round robin, quilting someone else's top or just binding somebody else's quilt.

When you complete your own work you know how it's been constructed and what to do from there.

Sadly this quilt has been worked on by lots of different people at lots of different skill levels as you would expect from a group quilt and as it should be because it's good for everyone to contribute regardless of level of expertise. My main problem has been that the right hand side border is slightly too long giving a little fullness at the edge. This coupled with the minimal quilting which never takes in any fullness means that even with a walking foot there are sadly a couple of unavoidable tiny tucks where the binding joins.

In addition to this the binding fabric was woefully thin and floppy - you could almost see light through it - so I've managed to stitch in a slight twist. However I just don't have the time to dismantle it and rework it, plus I don't think the fabric would stand up to the frog stitching quite frankly.

Still I suppose finished is better than perfect and the applique and hand quilting is also a bit suspect so at least that's not down to me. It has taken me some amount of time over yesterday, the day before and this morning to bind, label and sleeve it so I feel I've put in as much effort as it will get.

It is the main prize for our raffle so I hope the recipient likes it - it is a lovely quilt (from a bit of a distance) but does leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth that I couldn't get it perfect.

Now I just have to find the length of dark blue flowered fabric I've kept for The Brute's binding to match some of the narrow borders in the quilt. Oddly enough it's not in the bag I thought I'd put it - Oh No! - I can feel the need for a stash excavation coming over me :o(

Panic over - in a moment of inspiration I just realised I'd squirrelled it away in a drawer in the lounge so I would know where I'd put it! - located now and started to cut the bias for the binding :o)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another one bites the dust!

Second of four completed! This is the cot quilt for the raffle at our show the weekend after next in aid of the local Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Unit which is currently in the planning stages and all contributions gratefully received by them. At present people needing daily radiotherapy have to travel a round trip of over a hundred miles each day to Bristol - not pleasant if you're well never mind if you're undergoing that sort of treatment.

Slightly girly colours but would do for a boy if pushed. I've mainly machine quilted this with flowers similar to the sunflowers on 'The Brute' but larger leaves and smaller flowers not as intensely quilted gives it a softer snugglier feel - better for a baby. As I'm absolutely useless at following the lines I've hand quilted around the outside of each butterfly and a spiral in the centre of each flower.

Right onto the group 'Moon over the Mountains' quilt next - binding in navy blue which will need good light and definitely my glasses on :o)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Busy as a bee - getting into the binding groove

Mother Nature is so clever - this 'not so little' bee was busy drinking away in my biggest sunflower quite oblivious as to how much pollen was gathering on him/her to transfer onto the next flower along the garden.

I've been busy doing lots of family stuff this weekend but have found time in and amongst to bind my 'Now I know my ABC' quilt that I made a la Tonya. I have four quilts to bind so started on the smallest first. The next one will be a cot sized one I've made for the raffle at our quilt show. then the group quilt which is generous single bed sized, again for that raffle, in a Moon over the Mountains pattern and then of course finally the largest 'The Brute' which at ForestJane's suggestion I shall change to 'Flightless Beauty' (a play on The Beaut!'

Watch this space for more photos - I have less than two weeks so I have to get my skates on but work finishes tomorrow so I'll have more time to stitch which is always a nice thing :o)

Friday, July 21, 2006

'The Brute' is quilted - Yippeeeeee!!!


The quilting is finally finished and has taken me about a fortnight.

DH has spent the best part of that time harrumphing around the house as everytime he's turned round all he can see of me is my back bent over the sewing machine and not a lot else has got done - well not by me anyway! His first retort when I shouted with joy that it was completed was 'Humph - we might get something done around the house now' - He won't be saying that when we're all cosy and warm in bed in the winter will he?

A huge relief now it's done - yes I know I still have to label and bind it and add a hanging sleeve but the main part of the donkey work is completed and I'm very happy with it.

The sewing machine stood up not too badly - especially after I gave it a jolly good clean and an oiling after it bit my finger in retaliation for ill-treating it (I have to confess I do forget to spring clean it and oil it - which is very cruel of me as it does do a huge amount of work - Naughty, Naughty Mummy!) Little wonder it bit back then is it really?

The finger is coming along nicely - in the interests of your stomachs I shan't post a picture of that - needless to say I think I will have a permanent reminder on the side of my fingerprint - good job I've no intention of robbing any banks :o)

The children (and I) break up for the summer holidays of six weeks next Tuesday. It can't come soon enough although I shall be a little sad as that will be the end of my placement at my present school - I've enjoyed it there very much and still wish there was a permanent job going right now, but I do have my new job to look forward to in September and luckily the office staff don't have to work teacher training days (of which 1st September is one) so I don't go in until the 4th which is the same day my two youngest go back so no childcare problems to overcome there :o)

Wednesday will see my car go in for a service and some welcome if expensive work on the air-con system which needs the gas recharging. The weather here in the UK has been in the mid 30's centigrade with high humidity which is very hot for us. This coupled with the fact I have to park in full sunlight at school has made each day's 20 minute journey home very sticky indeed. I've had to resort to Plan B on the air-con front - driving along with both windows fully open, travelling at about 60mph which does little to improve the old hair-do! I look like Medusa by the time I get in the house :o) But it's just had to be because I've not been able to allocate a full day where I didn't need the car for something so that's the first time it could go to the garage.

Of course you can bet your bottom dollar that the weather will change to cool and wet in response to the mended air-con and the kids off school - hey-ho, why should this year be any different from any other. Still not having to chase everyone out of the house with the correct luggage each morning will be reward enough :o)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Monster #3 and 'The Brute' is almost done

Well 'The Brute' is well on the way to being completely quilted - my finger has recovered sufficiently to allow me to machine quilt and so I gave the machine a thorough cleaning, oiling and some TLC and then cracked on quite a bit more over the past couple of days. I now only have a section of about 24" wide by 48" long along one edge to do to complete the quilting - I may finish it this evening or definitely tomorrow - whoopee!

I thought seeing as how I showed you monsters #1 and #2 over the past week or two that #3 shouldn't be left out. These show two of the three sides to her nine year old nature - the blonde haired, blue eyed angel in the mouth of whom butter would never ever melt and the little horror (taken in this one about two years ago) who has a wicked sense of humour. You have seen the third facet to her personality in the rear view photo after the plait was amputated - a stroppy vile tempered little horror - appearances can be soooo deceptive!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sunflowers of a non-quilted type

These are, as the title suggests, sunflowers of a non-quilted variety - unlike the ones on 'The Brute'. They were all seeded from dropped sunflower seeds (unsurprisingly) from the bird feeders and so are actually freebies, a real delight as I've never grown sunflowers before and it's lovely to watch them moving their heads round to follow the sun each day. I will certainly be growing some intentionally next year.

I didn't do a fat lot more on the quilted variety last night as I went to get on with some after the committee meeting and the machine was playing up - chewing up the thread underneath.

So I decided to have a good sort out, clean the machine, change the needle etc but stupidly didn't switch everything off - result.......... one stitched forefinger on my left hand - OUCH!!!!! - the needle entered at the point where your forefinger and thumb touch if you pick up a sewing needle and of course as an immediate reaction I pulled my hand away so it has ripped a one centimetre strip of skin open. It's not too deep thankfully and pretty clean but is very sore indeed. Mercifully I didn't get any blood on my work - much to DH's amusement as that was what I was most concerned about when he was trying to sort me out. Fortunately I haven't had to do too much proper typing at work today as that is very painful too.

So I guess the next task will be to give the machine the proper clean I was embarking on when the incident happened and then crack on with those sunflowers again as and when the painful finger allows.

Industrial injuries eh?!?!? Dangerous business this stitching.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Brute just keeps on going

Well I've been steadily chipping away at 'The Brute' before, a little during and since the weekend. I think I'm over three quarters of the way done now so at least I'm well onto the down hill straight.

As I've got my work station set up pretty well it's not proving too difficult. The work top with my machine on is up against the windowsill so I don't have a problem with The Brute dragging down onto the floor behind the machine and the ironing board to my left is keeping it from pulling down sideways so we're slowly getting there, it is just a bit tedious that's all.

I've had a pretty busy weekend as DD1 had her second rugby academy day so we were all out of the house from 8am Saturday 'til 1pm Sunday as we stayed at the 'out-laws' (sorry Nigel's parents) on Saturday night. However I did get to sit in the sun watching her train all day on the Saturday so took along loads of my hexagons to cover with fabric - mindless, simple work that I could get on with without having to think and could chat to the other spectating parents at the same time. Anyway that's given me lots of prepared hexagons to stitch to the main piece now. At this rate I really can't imagine getting that one finished for the show which is now only two weeks on Saturday as it will be cutting it too fine I think - never mind save that for another time I suppose. At least the brute should be good and finished in time!

DD1 Sarah set off for a three day school trip to London this morning and wasn't too happy as we incorrectly read the instructions thinking she had to be at school for 7.30am when the coach wasn't actually departing 'til 9am - Dad dropped her off on his way to work and as there were stacks of people milling around because the Paris trip was leaving at 7.30 he didn't realise she was way too early - some very scratchy texts came my way I can tell you! Still she did read the itinerary last night herself as well as us and didn't pick up on it either. Anyway better early than late I say!

They got to London ok so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she stays safe as it's only a few days since the anniversary of last year's suicide bombings on the tube and buses. As far as I know they're actually going everywhere on their own coach so she should be ok - and of course you have to let them go bit by bit as you can't wrap them up in cotton wool for ever but nevertheless it is still a worry and I shan't settle properly 'til she's back late on Wednesday evening which just so happens to be her 14th birthday too.

I was deeply saddened by the news of Judy's nephew on Sunshine Quilts blog who was killed in a car crash last week at only 27 I think. Life is so precious and that of your own doubly so - but you do have to let them spread their wings if only in little stages at a time, I know everyone in the blogging community is holding her and her family in their hearts but it is such a very sad time for them.

As 'The Brute' is still under the needle I've posted photos of the two quilts I made for DH's nieces when they were new-born - we saw the girls again this weekend. The one with the pink random strippies was for Nicola who was two in April and the one with the pinwheels for her baby sister Hannah who will be one at the end of August.

As gorgeous as the two of them are, in some ways I'm very glad mine are a good bit past that labour intensive stage especially as the two girls and their 5 year old brother are very clingy which makes them extra hard work for her.

Right - tea for the two youngest before their swimming lessons tonight and then a quilt group committee meeting for me so I can't see 'The Brute' getting completed tonight - Oh well tomorrow is always another day!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Whhooo-hoooo! I have a job!

Just a very short post - I will join the ranks of permanently employed as of 1st September 2006.

All these months of temping have reaped their rewards as I've just landed the job of School Finance Officer at a little school about a mile and a half up the road from our house.

It will be 16hrs a week spread over 4 days and fits in with the children perfectly - what more could I ask for?

Thanks to everyone with their words of support over the past few weeks when I was despondent about not getting anything - my patience and persistence has been worth it and I really value all the good vibes you've sent to me over the airwaves :o))))))))) Yippee!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More kids and no quilts yet

Yesterday afternoon saw me putting about another two hours into 'The Brute' - still only seem to be about half way round but I keep chugging away in there and hopefully over the next few days I should be able to put the quilting part to bed (Good pun that eh?) The binding doesn't phase me - I just stitch it onto the front with the walking foot and then enjoy sitting down in front of the tv hand stitching it to the back merrily away - must be a natural hand stitcher - strange that I don't hand quilt really then - perhaps I should retry 'a la Tonya' without a frame because that's one of the reasons I couldn't get on with it before.

I have two other quilts to bind for the show at the start of August - one is the group raffle quilt - a small double bed sized with moon over the mountain blocks - will show you a pic once I've done the binding - the other is a cot quilt I slammed together also for a raffle prize - and of course I have my 'Tonya alphabet' one to do too - so that'll be a real Binding-fest once I get started on all that. All these need labels and sleeves so I'm on a tight schedule - but we will get there.

The photos are of my son Nick (he's the little red-headed guy) at a sports festival last weekend with 999 other kids from schools all around Somerset. The first day was general skills training to pick out the top 150 to put on forward for further coaching etc, the second day had them doing a sport they'd never tried in the morning - he had picked fencing and was lucky enough to get his first choice - and then in the afternoon they got to do a sport they liked - again he was lucky enough to get his first choice of cricket. Football would have been his real pick but it wasn't an option as so many kids do play it normally if they're into sport over here and a part of the festival was to give them the chance to try new things. He got a silver certificate which I think will mean he's not in the top 150 but he had a fabulous weekend at the wonderful facilities of a very exclusive private school near where his dad works - how the other half lives eh?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Nothing much to report

I have absolutely nothing quilty to show you at all today as I've been steadily mastering 'The Brute' - I reckon I'm about half done now

In the later evenings when I've been too tired to concentrate at the machine I've been stitching hexagons and have completed the beige round and made a reasonable start on the turquoise round which will square off all the edges.

The photo shows you DD1 at her Regional Rugby Presentation Awards Evening last Friday night which we took her to up at a lovely golf club near Bristol overlooking the two Severn bridges which take traffic over the River Severn into Wales

Sarah is second from left with the huge smile and the pretty cream top on. Her friends (from the left) Cat (short for Catherine), Alice, Kate and Megan were all selected for the Personal Development Academy with her and they've all played together for County (Somerset) and the region (South West, North of England) throughout the 2005/2006 season so have got to know each other pretty well. They keep in touch on-line and looking at them you'd be hard pressed to think they're actually rugby players. In fact the girl on the outside left also does ballet :o)

A lovely bunch of girls - who knows in eight years time we may see some of them playing for England Ladies in the World Cup

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Brute goes under the needle

Well I have made a start!

Somebody very kindly gave me the tip of putting the ironing board next to my sewing table to help take the weight of it all and stop it dragging the whole thing onto the floor - so you can see from one of the pictures that I've managed to position it such that it does that - what a life saver (plus a temper saver and needle saver too) Thank you for that!

I'd love to be one of these people that quilts in such a manner that all the different designs are highlighted with different motifs - Carol Bryer Fallert is one who springs to mind (apologies if the spelling is iffy) with her beautiful bird motifs in her flying geese triangles but I'm just too impatient - I want it all done NOW!!! even if there's no deadline to put the pressure on. Maybe some day I'll make something on a smaller scale and tailor the quilting in that way but it would take an enormous amount of control and practice because I'm just no good at colouring between the lines :o(

So I've gone with the wholecloth approach - ignore what's there and just quilt wherever your needle takes you - so far this afternoon I've faffed about doing ten minutes here and ten minutes there and covered an area of about 2ft square or so. But as you can hopefully make out from the close-ups the sunflowers and continuous leaves are working out sort of okay so this one will be a case of just keep plodding along and tortoise against the hare style I will get there in the end

Mind you - God help anyone else in the house who may wish to do some ironing if they remove that board!

More design inspirations from Budapest

The church I showed you the roof of yesterday has the most beautiful fresco paintings inside - amazingly unusual for a church they were totally happy for me to take as many photos as I wished. I was like a kid in a candy store! Thank heavens for digital cameras

These are just a small selection of some of the patterns which blew my mind away :o)

Just take a couple of minutes to click them to full size and study them - totally awesome!

I defy anyone not to find at least one patchwork or applique pattern in there - Enjoy!

Friday, July 07, 2006

And next on the hexagon front

Some one asked how many hexagons there are in my turquoise cream and sand quilt on my last posting - I'm not sure exactly but last night I counted a row in each direction and both were about 60 patches so multiplied up and taking into consideration my final border I reckon there will be almost 4000 patches in the finished item. I usually take out the paper on each piece as soon as the whole piece is surrounded and then re-use the papers as I go along - I make them out of old birthday and christmas cards so they're reasonably robust for repeat use.

Someone else asked how long I'd been putting it together - the answer to that is I started between Christmas and New Year this last winter so around 6 - 7 months in total

I've loved every bit of it even the tedious bits like the cream background when squaring up the shape and as I said I shall really miss it when it's finished - it's been so handy to just pick up and do a little bit in the evening when I've been watching the tv - I love handwork and find the television a terrible waste of time to just watch without something constructive in my hands - also I've covered papers on car journeys and in hospital waiting rooms so it's a great time filler - mind you I've had more than a few funny looks - nothing like as many people on this side of the pond stitch at all and people over here are way too reserved to strike up a conversation to ask what I'm doing - sadly!

The photos show some inspiration for the next hexagon project - it will probably be in smaller pieces - the church is in Budapest - I think I've probably shown some of you it before - all the roof tiles are ceramic glazed in lovely colours and shine in the sun - this wasn't the only building with them on but it was the most spectacular. The inside of the church was all painted in patterns into the plaster everywhere in the most fabulous intricate designs and amazingly you were quite at liberty to photograph as much as you liked so I took loads - plenty of inspiration for applique among them - I'll show you those another time.

The quilt is one I spotted a couple of years ago at a local group show in Gloucestershire and shows that there is more to hexagons than Grandmothers Flower Garden which can get a bit samey

Maureen on 'Maureen's World' at - sorry I haven't mastered links yet - shows the most awesome hexagon quilts by a man called Albert Small - one of his quilts had hexagons measuring only quarter inch across - truly amazing - some fabulous inspiration for different patterns there

Last night I finished the beige border and made a small start on the turquoise one - tonight we're out at DD1's regional rugby presentation do so not much stitching will be done then but I have a quiet weekend otherwise so I should start quilting 'The Brute' and maybe get some more hexagons in too - we'll see :o) Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ok - you've persuaded me - here's the hexagon sofa throw

Okay - Maureen's comment on the last post persuaded me - here is my hexagon sofa throw I mentioned stitching some of last night.

I started this between Christmas and New Year last December 2005. The hexagons are all 1.5inches point to point.

My lounge is decorated in aqua, cream and sand - hence the colour scheme - although it'll have to be washable to cope in those colours.

As you can see from the bottom left hand corner I have just a few beige pieces to put in. Then I shall do a turquoise round in the same as the outermost hexagon in the centre and fill in all the half pieces in that same fabric to make the edges even.

As it's all handstitched over papers it will have to be very heavily quilted so there's no strain whatsoever on those seams - this won't be a problem - yet again I'll just stitch at random all over as the fancy takes me but with the stitching no more than half to one inch apart at any point. Then I'll probably bind it in cream - we'll see.

I'd like to get this one finished for our quilt show also at the beginning of August but it depends on how quickly I can finish the piecing in and amongst everything else :o)

It's actually pleasantly surprised me looking at it in a photo - you spend so long at very close quarters to things when you're working on them that you don't get the overall effect. I really like it and will be quite sad once it's finished.

Computers work in mysterious ways!

Well I have absolutely no idea why - but my blog just would not show up over the past couple of days - all you got was an interminable delay and a white screen - very frustrating - anyway eventually i managed to navigate to my dashboard from a comment I'd left on someone elses blog and I republished the entire blog - so here we are up and running again - this probably all sounds kind of like I know what I'm talking about but I don't it was just an inspired guess :o)

Yesterday was a funny day - I had my usual day off work and I had an interview for another school job to go to. I also felt not at all well - had the trots and felt lightheaded and sort of woolly round the edges - probably the heat!

The offshoot of all this was that I didn't get the job - a choice between me and another candidate and I came second yet again! This is the 5th time this has happened since we've been here - disappointing because despite feeling unwell I felt the interview went very well indeed. Apparently it was so close that they left it to the Finance Officer that I'd be working alongside to pick between us ?!?!? How can you counter that?

DH and I had a long discussion as I was starting to feel like maybe it was because I'm not local - but he just said that he felt it was not that - more likely because I'm actually too good for the job and if I didn't have three school aged children with their term-time, school day restrictions I'd be aiming for something much higher on a full time basis - I did have quite a high powered job before the children were born. He said it was probably the case that they'd feel I would show up their inadequacies as I'm leagues ahead of them.

This all sounds very big headed - but they were his words - not mine, I was feeling pretty flat about it all

He is a wonderful guy in loads of ways but never one to bandy compliments about for the sake of it - the best you'll get for example when you're dressed up really nicely to go somewhere special is a very distracted 'Oh yeah you look okay' so you can tell what I mean encouraging and complimentary remarks are few and far between for anyone, not just me - it's just the way he is - Man of few words

He has made me feel a lot better about myself - I never used to lack self conviction but there are only so many knock backs you can take and not start to feel it

I do have another couple of interviews next week so we'll see and the temporary placement that I'm in now is also looking like I'll be put onto a temporary contract with the school in September rather than the staffing agency if the incumbent doesn't come back to work - she retires next May and is off with stress - we think she's working her ticket on ill-health and will just spin it out as long as she can up to then.

Out of all of them the place I'm at at the moment would be my preferred choice as I know the staff, the head doesn't feel threatened by me - in fact she's a particularly enabling sort of person to work for. But of course there is the outside chance that the permanent lady will just come back and I'll be left high and dry.

Gosh - what a muddle - no doubt things will become clearer over the next few weeks. Wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to work and could just stay at home and play quilting all day

With all this going on I've not done much stitching - certainly way too hot and sticky for me to attempt to quilt The Brute - but I did stitch a few more hexagons for my sofa throw whilst watching the French beat the Portuguese - YES!

No pictures to show you as Blogger obviously hasn't completely made friends with me today - I was going to show you a quilt I made for DH's baby niece just before we moved down here last Autumn - I'll save it for another day.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Half of the names done now - on the downhill straight :o)

Well just look at this - half of my boys finished with only seven to go! Jose Pepe Reina and Steve Finnan were under the needle last night as the poor old Germans went out to those two incisive Italian goals. I should think it'll almost be a day of national mourning in Germany today - I had secretly hoped they'd go onto win it but am now switching my allegiance to France after the way the Italians played against the Socceroos the other week. DS is still pinning his hopes on Portugal despatching France tonight as he drew Portugal in the class sweepstake at school. I can't support them after they knocked out England :o( and their filthy performance against Holland - two red cards indeed!

I shall have to put aside my boys for now as my Ostrich is calling loud and clear for the weekend of 5/6 August. Someone asked if I was to machine or hand quilt it. The answer being most definitely machine on my trusty old Bernina (with it's sister machine in back up in case the workload gets too much for her. My arthritic fingers aren't up to hand quilting - strange that when they can whizz along with the hand applique.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sandwiches in the Garden :o)

Blogger has been playing fast and loose with Quilting Bebbs today - most of the day it's looked like there's nothing there except a list of the posts down the side :o(

I was just beginning to panic and thinking 'Oh my word - what can a complete technophobe like me do about this' and it brought everything back up again - in the words of Alice in Wonderland - 'Curiouser and curiouser!'

I have great cause for celebration - after two hours of bending over the patio table I now have an Ostrich Sandwich - Ta Daaaaaa! Thank you to whoever gave me that tip - it worked a treat and saved my housemaids knees from a fate worse than death. I did pin the top edge together clipped onto the washing line to start off with and it's made a reasonable job of it - the back will never be as tight as a drum but I figure it's for me not the quilt police and as I shan't be looking at the back I can live with that :o)

My back certainly knows that's how I've spent two hours this evening and the whole thing weighs a ton so it'll no doubt be a joy to quilt - hey ho :o)

As it doesn't look much different from the previous posts of it, I thought I'd show you my Mother's Day presents - the three climbing roses - we only put them in in March so I'm delighted that they've flowered this year. The peach one is called 'Shropshire Lad' which as my DH was born in Shrewsbury in Shropshire I thought that quite appropriate. The clematis is a 'Hagley Hybrid' one of my favourite varieties which was also put in at the same time and has also come up trumps.

Now all I have to do is hope for the promised break in the weather to cooler climbs later this week so I can sum up the energy to wrestle with 'The Brute' as it has become colloquially known! :o)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Not sandwiched yet :c(

Well I'm putting this up now as I may forget tomorrow

A very Happy Independence Day to all my American quilting sisters (and any brothers)

I hope you all get to spend the day exactly as you'd like whatever that may be :o)

My Ostrich didn't get sandwiched yesterday, events, the heat and just general apathy made me reluctant to crawl about on the lounge carpet pinning bits of fabric together.

However I have made the effort to stitch the backing all into one big piece and I've taken the batting out of it's squished up little bag to relax so we're a couple of steps closer.

It's been hot as Hades here over the weekend through today and is probably set to stay that way for a day or two so tomorrow evening I may take it all outside and peg the top edges of the layers along the washing line and then I can pin it roughly and put it down on the lounge floor in sections to finalise it - this being the only way I can think of managing the 'brute'

The next time you see me starting to make a piece of work grow into something of these proportions please shout at me to STOP!!!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

FPOT Applique - The Big Reveal!

So once you've finished all that stitching you should be left with something like this - a freezer paper shape tacked onto your background fabric with just a hint of the applique fabric showing at the edges :o)

Then take out the tacking stitches, peel off the freezer paper and ............VOILA ! ! ! !

And of course the added bonus is you can reuse the freezer paper shape again and again and again!

So .......what are you waiting for - dig out some freezer paper and have a go :o)

FPOT Applique - Step 5 - the tricky bit :o)

Now the tricky bit - stitching your applique shape to the background.

Firstly I tuck under a bit of the seam allowance in a straight line so that it is only next to the edge of the freezer paper at one point - a bit like a line at a tangent to the circumference of a circle if you can remember your geometry from school.

I then slip the needle behind it, effectively into the middle of that needleturn fabric (not behind the backing fabric) so that it then comes through the applique fabric to the front at that specific point. This leaves the knot inside the appliqued shape - nice and neat - I then make a securing stitch through all layers.

Then putting pressure near to that spot with the thumb nail of my left hand (I'm right handed so it's my non-sewing hand) and thus keeping the already needle turned fabric in place, I proceed to turn under the next couple of millimetres and stitch that down by bringing my needle up through the edge of the applique fabric and back down to the back again in the same spot so the stitches don't show all nice and invisible especially as I use a thread to match the applique material.

I proceed in this fashion shuffling along the whole way round the shape 'til I meet up with myself at the beginning again. Often I will go just past my start point as reinforcement and then secure neatly on the back.

Reading that back through I don't think that's totally as clear as mud but you must ask if you're not sure of something.

FPOT Applique steps 3 and 4

Then cut out your shape to be appliqued allowing a seam allowance of a scant quarter inch all round. As a circle has one continuous convex curve all the way round you don't need to snip towards the paper as you would if you had a concave curve or an inward 'v' like at the top of a heart.

Next I tack the shape onto the background clean through the freezer paper. Some people hold their shape in place, others pin it on, personally I find it worth the extra effort of a little tacking as it holds the shape firmly in place and prevents slippage which is especially important if you want a good even circle and desirable for any shape :o)

FPOT stage 1 & 2

First of all draw the shape you wish to achieve without any seam allowance exactly the size and shape you want your end product to be onto the non shiny size of freezer paper - boy, what did we do before freezer paper was invented?
Then once you've cut out that shape iron it onto the right side of the fabric you want the motif to be from - please ignore my very scruffy overused ironing pad - it's sadly in need of a re-cover :o(

Freezer Paper On Top Applique - it always works for me :o)

Okay - a couple of people asked me about 'freezer paper on top' applique which from now on in I shall call FPOT applique because I'm too idle to keep typing it out :o) I've taken some step by step photos but bloger doesn't want to upload them all so just to confuse you all I will put each one in a separate post - oh how I hate computers :o(

The last two months - more applique :o)

The dreaded 'P' word reared it's head for September - the challenge organiser knew that we were scheduled to move house on the 16th so she let me have the instructions very early to hopefully get it finished well before. 'Half Square Triangles' are not my favourite - we're back to the spectre of getting them calculated to fit along the receiving side - so I deliberately left a gap in the middle and filled that with background. This was fine but looked a bit bare - so as you can imagine I didn't need much persuading to add even more applique - this time smaller dots like the berries on the proper applique round.

The final round was October and because I'd finished the September round in double quick time - even before the end of August I think the organiser again very kindly offered me the opportunity to work on this one before the due month - the challenge this time was 'Friendship Stars'.

As my work was by now of gargantuan proportions the thought of piecing all those stars really didn't appeal - so I put one in each corner and a contrasting smaller one half way down each side and filled in between with some flower swags. These were done with bias tubing for the stalks and then heart shaped leaves with three layered flowers at intervals and pink spots again for the berries.

I have to confess I didn't get these completed anywhere near the end of October - I think I had them done before Christmas if I remember rightly so the Ostrich was completed in 2005. Most of it was stitched in Gloucester, some of the applique on holiday in the Pembrokeshire part of South Wales and finally the last round was completed in our new home here in Somerset

Hopefully this afternoon I shall try to sandwich it so that I can get on with the quilting and be able to put it both into our show and of course onto our bed - just have to decorate the bedroom to match then :o(