Friday, 29 October 2010

Bloggers Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival
Look at me, two posts in one day! I just knew if I didn't get this one done today I would probably forget and miss the deadline.
I'm showing a quilt that I blogged about fairly recently for two reasons. Firstly its one of the only ones I've managed to finish off this year and also because I'm so pleased with how it turned out.

I made the wonky stars out of Jessica Levitt Timber using scraps from another top I was working on and Kona coal. I then decided that I would use them for backing for that other top but when this one was all finished it seemed too good to just be a backing and after some feedback from my blogging friends I clicked my fingers and it was a top in its own right. Funnily enough the other top still hasn't been finished, its on my to-do pile along with a lot of others!
I love making wonky stars as they are so stress free, no need to worry about things matching. And they look so good with very little effort. The backing came from stash and the colour worked well with the front.
However the key thing I worked on with this one was the quilting. More to the point, scary difficult "Free Motion Quilting"! I challenged myself to really go for it as the quilt wasn't that big, 36 x 52 inches. And I quilting and I quilted and I quilted. I did different quilting in different parts of the blocks! First time for that rather than an all over squiggle!
Its far from perfect but I was so happy with how it turned out. Much much better than I thought it would when I started. But it was a lot of work, a lot of thread went into this little quilt! I lost track of how many times I changed the bobbin.
I even used up scraps for the binding and yes, I machine stitched this on, I hand stitched my first couple of quilts and then decided it was too much like hard work and am very happy with how it comes out after I practised it for a while.
This quilt still hasn't really got a name other than "Timber Grey Stars" but very few of mine have, nor does it have a label yet, but one day... maybe....

Favourite Things Friday

Check out Mrs P for more at

This week I'm going to tell you a story. Its not even a very interesting one but there you go!

A few years ago I had a new kitchen fitted, top to toe. Electrics, the works. The only thing that remained was my exisiting boiler which was about 5 years old. It had always been a bit of an eyesore in the old kitchen as it is tiny and I think the units in there were from the 60's.

So when I got my shiney lovely new kitchen the men fitted a big cupboard around the boiler and hide it so everything looked sleak and clean and fabulous.

Over the next couple of years everything went well, and then I notice some odd things happening with my heating system, the pipes were making strange noises. I found out that the boiler had a little fault with something called the pressure release value which is very common and over time it was venting steam and the system was loosing water. Simple, I was told, just top up the boiler with water. Fine I said, I'm not scared of doing that as I had to do it with my old one.

So I went to top it up with water, what did I discover? That I couldn't reach the F'ing tap is what. The men who had fitted my shiney new kitchen didn't leave enough space to put your hand underneath!

I tried to get the same men back, but they had gone out of business so tried to get someone else to come out and cut out a piece of wood from the cupboard. How hard can that be? Well BLOODY IMPOSSIBLE was the answer for months and months! With people not turning up and letting me down. Having to chase and chase workmen, no wonder I hate dealing with them as then always seem to make it so difficult.

The hot spring turned into the dank summer and then a freezing bloody cold autumn and still it wasn't done and I couldn't use my heating - at all!!!!!!!!  I went and bought electric fires and moved them with me from room to room as I needed them. Not nice having to get up at 4am with frost outside and scurry around the house!

But finally, on wednesday my favourite thing appeared, see in the picture at the bottom under the loose bit of wood? Thats a hole. That's THE FUCKING FANTASTIC FABULOUS HOLE that allows you to get your hand to the tap and fill up the system with water. And give me heat................

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Wonky Stars

I've used I some more scraps making these wonky stars. I just need to make one more 4 star block and I will have enough to make up into a full size top!

I'm really looking forward to see them all coming together as I've been working on them on and off all year.  Sorry the pic is a little bit blurry, I don't seem to be steady handed today.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Favourite Things Friday

I didn't know what to do this week, I have some ideas but they need more photos and I didn't have the omph to go and take them and then it dawned on me it was staring me right in front of my face.

This weeks FTF are my IPOD/ITunes combination.

When IPods first came out I coudn't see the fuss but eventually gave in with a model that looked like a brick compared to the ones these days. I labouriously ripped all my cds to ITunes and because my laptop was out of the ark it took about an hour for each one.

But it was worth it, I could take the Ipod away to work with me on overnight stays and be able to listen when stuck in hotels. Then I was able to use it while actually at work to keep out the noise around me and stay focused on what I was doing. 

Best of all I discovered Podcasts. Of course I could have them play just on the computer but I could listen to them in the hotel as well. I now subscribe to loads of them on all different subjects. Brilliant. I even use to listen to them in the car on the Ipod using the headphones when stuck in traffic. If you've never been stuck for 6 hours to move half a mile, let me tell you the best distraction to stop you going nuts is a lot of great comedy. And all these are free.

Eventually not only did my laptop and Ipod get upgraded but so did my car. I can now plug the Ipod straight into the car and listen through the speakers, yippee! I'm also carrying around in one little object my photo library as well as my music library. On top of that a few games have also helped while away the time when stuck alone in a hotel.

The thought of being without it now makes me shudder! How mundane life was before, how did we cope???

For more FTF check out Mrs P at

Sunday, 17 October 2010

More Scraps

I've finished the quilting on my charm squares, but I haven't decided what binding to use. I'll have to think about it for another while.

In the meantime I'm working on more scraps. I thought I had got on top of them a few months ago but I discovered another pile of them tucked away in my dining room.

I've got loads more 2.5 inch squares to use on my hexagons. The tub on the top left has my little tiny straps and on the right is triangles. I've sorted out a lot more strings into colours as well.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Favourite Things Friday

Is tea ---

but not just any tea for me. It has to be Earl Grey. I know it isn't to everyones taste and the aroma puts some people off but it works for me. I like to serve it with just a dash of milk but can drink it black as well.

However if I'm being really indulgent I serve it like this.

As part of a good old Cream Tea. Traditionally served in Devon and Cornwall I've had it in Sussex, The Cotswolds, wherever I find it. Usually though outside Devon or Cornwall the clotted cream which is as thick and calorie laden as anything comes in little plastic containers saying they are from either of those two West Country counties.

Creams Teas are a treat on days out or holidays. You can't have one quickly so they make you slow down and watch the world go by. Some tea shops are in the most unexpected places. One I came across in Cornwall was a house on a coastal walk where the owner served in her garden. She looked about ninety and made all the cakes and scones herself!

But there are two contentious issues in the cream tea world! Firstly the scones. How do you pronounce it?
I go for the Sc-on option but some go for Sc-own which is more elongated.

And the second issue is jam or cream first! Personally I like to put the jam on first because a good scone is going to be very crumbly and if you put too much pressure on they will start to disintegrate. With a layer of jam it is easier to perch the cream on top. It does look prettier in the picture the other way around though.

But then the picture is all about pretty and not about the practicalities, trying to pick up the scone loaded like that could be disastrous, once you take a bite it could crumble and you would have a creamy jammie mess all over yourself. Its a lot safer to cut it into smaller pieces on the plate.

Sometimes the scones have currents in sometimes they don't. It doesn't  really matter to me either way.

So if you come across a cream tea, go for it. Because the calories don't count if you are on holiday or having a siteseeing day out. Think of all that walking you are doing to burn them off!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Finally achieving something

I seem to have not been doing anything crafty for a little while, instead its been all boring stuff like housework, accounts and filing.

I finally got started with some basting today though, this is one of NINE tops I have unfinished. Yes NINE! Why did I let it get so bad. Considering I only started quilting 18 months ago it seems a bit exessive but I'm determined to make a dent now.

It may take a while as I start a new contract next week. Its back where I worked earlier in the year so I know what to expect and who I'll be working with. The scary thing is that it is only 2 months (not the scary part) and I suddenly realised it takes me right up to Christmas! How is Christmas only 2 months away???? Where has the year gone?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Another Go Giveaway

Sue over at Alderwood quilts is hosting another Go giveaway and she will ship outside the US so it makes me eligble.

I have to say that Sue seems to have the life I want, she owns a quilt shop and a lavender farm and now she has this toy to play with! Hmmph!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Some oldies

Nothing interesting going on here so I thought I would show you some more of my quilts I made last year.

These two were made for my Mum. The first was made from a moda Jelly Roll and using a pattern from Jelly Roll Quilts. This went together really easily and I just straight line quilted it and I was very pleased with how it came out. I also felt I had cracked machine stitching the binding with this one, I didn't get any mistakes on the back of this one.

This one was made using all sorts of old fabric I had collected years ago when I nearly started quilting and then didn't. This was made with blocks made from 16 2inch squares and 8 inch pattern blocks and was a great practise quilt for working on my piecing skills. I free motion quilted it with a loopy pattern and it was all great until I washed it and then for the first time I got some fabric bleed into the white fabric. Mostly it was on the back so it isn't that noticable and my Mum doesn't mind at all.

I did learn to use colour catchers in the wash though. Despite this I still don't pre-wash my fabric as I have lots of small bits and the thought of all the ironing involved seems like far too much effort. I haven't had any problems since so I am prepared to take the risk!

Both of these ended up at 40 x 60 inches.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Favourite things Friday

Todays post is about trees.

Yes, I have favourite trees.

I like weeping willows as they are places to go and hide in. I went to the Redwood forest near San Franciso and the smell was amazing.

There is an oak tree that I keep forgetting to take a picture of in Greenwich Park that reminds me of the party tree in the Lord of the Rings. I've seen whole families set up picnics under it summer with birthday banners and everything.

Most of all, I like really old knarly trees like this one in Audley End in Essex.

Out near the Cotswolds, there is a place called Batsford Arboretum with some really pretty trees including Redwoods.

At Leonardslee Gardens this one framed the gate perfectly.

And in Greenwich Park there are some really really knarly specimens!