Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Looking Out The Window

My sewing machine, remember it was playing up? It is now playing the fool, or playing me for a fool. The feed dogs are no longer feeding the fabric through at all. Just as well it is booked in for a service on Thursday. I should have done this ages ago, and no doubt Cecil, or Cecil's wife in the repair shop will tell me so.

In the meantime I am footering around. It is a bit ironic, my daughter has several parcels being delivered this week. All delivered to home. All delivered on different days. All delivered in two or three hour delivery slots. And I have no machine to play with! Boy are my kitchen cupboard doors shiny and my floors clean this week

I decided to have a "hoke" and see what else I could be getting on with. I came across my quatrefoil window quilt. This was my bee quilt from last year, Beeabee2017.

 To be fair to my bee mates, my initial blog post said I was going the pale blue view through the window route. This is based on the view out of quatre foil window, or the light filtering through said window.

I quickly changed that to a child's view through the window. And to be fair, I think most of my of my bee mates had read the email very promptly and followed my instructions to the letter. What I have decided to do, is use a mix of all the child's view and some  pale blue sky on the front of the quilt, and the remaining pale blue blocks on the backing.

To balance them out, I am going to undo my test blocks and re sew them with a child's view.
Here the two are, "auditioning" the new fabrics. Both space orientated, one bought by me and the other sent to me by Yvonne, jetquiltinggirl. It is nice to incorporate a little of Yvonne and her jet story into this. 

They are all unpicked now and waiting.

That just leaves me needing one more child's view block for the front. I will make another one. I just today was gifted the perfect fabric for this, plains and helicopters, amongst some fabrics Lucy from charmaboutyou very kindly sent me , arrived today. Again, I have "known" Lucy right from the start of my sewing, and it is nice to include this.

So, are you still with me? That is 12 blocks for the front, 4 x 3 blocks, and 5 remaindered to be part of the backing. I have this great space fabric for the rest of the backing. I am now keen to get this going again, and it is on my FAL list for this quarter (finish a long). But you know what, I can't get going as I have don't have my sewing machine. I might just go to the loft and get the old Janome, but it hadn't a great tension, and I am not techy enough to fix these things.

If my old machine is ok, I can at least get the backing pieced for the Belfast Bulletin ready to baste over the weekend. It has all been a bit of a Pfaff. And, if no machine at all, well I have a So Faded sweater very nearly finished. And even a few wardrobes to tidy xxx

Helen x

Friday, 9 March 2018

Meeting the Deadline

The #Belfastbulletin has met its deadline. We have a flimsy! I say "we" in the plural as this quilt is oh so much more than just me. I had set the target/aspiration of being able to link up the flimsy finish with Myra and Busy Hands Quilts and her Finished Or Not Friday link up. I tend not to link up here unless we are heading towards a finish, and definitely try to aim to coincide with it. Matter of personal pride.

I made the remaining 10 blocks needed to add the extra row. This made the quilt up to 12 blocks in a row, and 11 rather than 10 rows deep. At a final 7" per square that's oh, 84" x 77". I know most quilts tend to be traditionally oblong, longer than wide. Generally I like square quilts, but for double bed quilts, I like them to be wider than longer. As explained before, I have been married for a long, long time, to the one man. The secret to the happy marriage is to have big enough bed covers. Skimpy bedcovers, cold nights, territorial wars, no sleep, grumpy daytimes. I wonder do the marriage guidance counsellors ever take this into account? But I repeat myself.

The weather was dry enough today to try and get a couple of photos outside. I asked "him" to help me. He held up the quilt for 5 nanoseconds and asks, are you done yet. The usual when it comes to holding up quilts for photos. One shot and that's it.

Back in the house, I was looking at the fence, the ground really was quite dry today. As I headed out the door with the quilt, I heard a muttered "pain in the arse". Next thing the quilt was successfully pegged up on the fence and he was taking photos for me. Result.

I must admit I am rather pleased with this. I should say quietly pleased. It is rather a quiet quilt, Sarah's ombre hst quilt pattern was designed as a quieter version of the bright hst quilts. Such as Postcards from Sweden. You can just get a glimpse of my "writing corner", how pompous! I look forward to reading on this seat when the weather warms up.

Next I played about with the backing. I have 3.5m of this Cotton and Steel buttons fabric, but not all in one piece. It was a bolt end plus a couple of pieces. Sure, aren't I cutting it up anyway? I like pieced backings, bit more interest in them. I had set aside all the offcuts from the original squares. I have pretty much pieced them into a ladder. I think I will have one long ladder running the length, off centre. The right hand side, or maybe the left, but probably the right will have a sideways ladder running off.

Regular readers will know that I usually coincide my hairdresser visits with a run to the pile it high fabric shop. My roots are nicely showing so on Thursday I will get the wadding and hopefully have the backing pieced by then. That leads up nicely to the weekend for basting. The sewing machine repair shop is nearby too, so I will drop my Pfaff in for a service, it has been faffing around a bit. By the time I get the basting done, the machine should be ready for collection again. All neatly done!

I have made a teeny tiny bit of progress with the bright Postcards from Sweden, my #writingfromWhitehead. The photo is rather boring, but I have the first row pieced. I am going slightly different this time. Instead of making the blocks then piecing the quilt,  I am making the blocks as needed and joining them together one at a time. Time and Motion. Remember that? Again, I think organisation is the key to this.

Knit wise, I have nearly finished my V for Valentine socks as designed by Ellie Jones of Craft House Magic. Ellie has a knit a long for this, and it is drawing towards a close soon. I have just got to the toes of my second sock. I have used Ellie's own Strawberry Fields Forever yarn. Ellie names her yarn after 1970s pop songs. Being photo ready, I bought some red heart Lindt chocolates for the photos for this. They doubled up as a Valentine's present for my husband. I  feel a pressing need to buy some raspberry ripple ice cream as a photo prop too! This photo is a bit dark, better photos to come. And the stitch makers? This time I am determined both socks are going to be the same size!

So, plans for the weekend? Are you doing anything nice? Myself and my daughter, my sister in law and niece are going out for afternoon tea tomorrow with my sister and her daughter to celebrate my sister's "big" birthday. The nice thing about this is it also Mother's Day here in the UK on Sunday. Again multitasking!! Mother's Day my husband usually cooks, but this year my daughter is making dinner for both of us. Where ever you are, I hope you have a good weekend.

Helen x
linking up with Myra and Busy Hands Quilts and Finished Or Not Friday

Monday, 5 March 2018

News is Imminent

We have a finished flimsy. We don't have a finished flimsy. I unfortunately seem to be making a habit of this. Last week it was basically too cold to sew..... we had snow so no sew. The rest of the UK and much of N Ireland was under the Beast from the East and then Storm Emma hot on the Beast's tail. We had mostly cold and more cold, then as everybody got rid of their snow, our localised snow arrived. In Canada and USA the snow comes every year, for months at a time I believe. We get bad snow every couple of years and so the world comes to an end for a few days. Shops run out of bread and milk, transport all ceases and we all live like hobbits for a few days. My sister sent me this photo of her walk to work, the road all but submerged in the snow, it came to the top of her legs in places.

So, too cold to sew. I sat by the fire and knitted and in the evenings had a glass of red wine to keep up my fruit intake. Our children had a picture book they loved. It was about an old fat dog. The dog basically had the best seat in the house beside the fire. He lay there and slept and made noxious smells. Only left the settee to go to the toilet and eat. Last week folks, I was that dog. Just in case you are interested, the book was by Bob Graham but I can't find it online.

Saturday was warmer, and Sunday so I crawled off the settee and ventured to check out the Belfast Bulletin. I had previously pieced rows 1-4. I got the rest of the rows pieced 1-8 and effectively had a completed flimsy. Now .... remember I said previously I had 3 blocks over but was 3 blocks short? Well ...... Wben I sewed the rows all together, I had an extra block on 2 rows! I don't understand it. My maths isn't that bad. But there it was. I had 8 rows of 12 blocks, but two rows in the middle had 13 blocks. More about those blocks later.

The quilt fills the available floor space of my the part of my kitchen which has the biggest floor space. We have a big "lounging" area, our house is open plan, but the furniture takes up the photo opportunity space. Very inconvenient.

I have taken 3 photos of the left, medium and right to show the quilt closer up. You can just see the extra blocks trying to hide in photo 3.

Next I moved down to our bedroom to try and get a quilts in the wild photo. Again, our bedroom isn't big enough for me to get a proper photo, but you get the gist. I am more than happy with the overhang of the quilt now I have enlarged it to the 12 block width. I am however less happy with the length. One more row would make all the difference. Where have I heard that before? This is what happened with the last Coulter Wedding Quilt I made, The Behemoth. This way madness lies.

I ummed and ahhed, walked away, had another cup of coffee. Looked at the photo, thought a bit more and decided it needs another row. And lucky me, I have 2 more blocks all ready.  I had a conversation with Lynne, @fairisleknitter on ig. We had both been concerned about some of the darker greens taking on a brown tone. So far so good, but I think I will try to incorporate more of the blues in this row. So a finish for Friday? A flimsy finish. I might be on this slippery slope again.

And some happy mail on Saturday. Sandra and I had swapped some fabrics for our Postcards from Sweden quilts.

 Sandra's second parcel, the fabric we bought jointly then divided, arrived lickity spit. Her first parcel, of precious fabrics from her own stash, took, shall we say, a little longer. I think it travelled by canoe, then overland by camel, then the last bit attached to the back of a dolphin. Many of our recent conversations had been along the lines of "has it?" "no" "has it not?". Now it has. I had substituted as close as I could from my own stash and it had worked out ok. However, the point of this was to  have some of each other's stash in our quilts, so I will substitute some of the substitutes and leave the rest. I would love to make a drunkard's path quilt one day, so trust me, they won't go to waste. I don't think you ever make all of the quilts.

So, here's to Friday and my flimsy finish. I will also, hopefully, have finished knitting a Portfolio shawl for my sister, and my V for Valentine socks for myself.

Helen x
linking up with Beth and Cooking Up Quilts and her Main Crush Monday
linking up with Molli Sparkles and Sunday Stash

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Answers On A Postcard Please

Answers on a postcard please. But what is the Question? The Answer according to Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is 42. The computer Deep Thought revealed the Ultimate Answer to be 42, the problem was, What Is The Question? Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a big favourite in our house, we had the book, we had the audio for the car, we had the dvd, or video as it was in those days.  When I laid out my fabric squares for The Postcard From Sweden Quilt, it reminded me of those days. See, quilting keeps your brain active in many ways.

So what is the question? The question is how do these 36 different colours all come together?

 The answer is a stupendous riot of colour.

 Today I was hoping to begin my sewing. The Beast From The East has arrived in the UK, if not quite in our corner. It is absolutely Baltic here. Wrong, it is cold enough to be Siberia. Oh, that's right, this wind is coming right from Siberia. We have no snow as yet, a few flurries, but it is falling thick in fast in England, then Scotland, and we are next. Whilst we wait for the Beast, it is just very very cold. Too cold to sew, if not too cold for snow. The gas central heating is on, the fire is lit, but my sewing room is way too cold for sewing. So, I caught up on my scrapbooking this morning.

I hadn't as yet actually read the sewing instructions. Surprise surprise. I assumed the squares were overlaid two at a time and sewn on the diagonal, then cut. They aren't. The squares are cut on the diagonal and the triangles sewn together. This may give me a little problem. They are sewn on the bias, which means lots of stretch. My sewing machine is play acting a little. When I try to start my seam, it sort of does that motorbike revving thing .... it stitches on the spot and the material doesn't feed along the feed teeth. I have to sort of shove, pull it to get it going. I don't think this will go well with bias sewing. I think I need to get my machine serviced, it has never been done. I use it too much to leave it in! I have changed the needle, taken out the bobbin bits and cleaned around, a heck of a lot of fluff came out. It can't be the tension. I never change the tension for the tension to go off. I am the sort of person who uses one programme on the washing machine, uses automatic feature on my camera. I was surprised yesterday to discover you can pause and rewind "live" tv. Very good, I won't be doing it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it is my motto.

Anyhow, it is too cold today to struggle and fight with my Pfaff, to faff around with it so to speak.
I have scrapbooked until my tape ran out. Now I am settled down in front of the fire and tv with a big piece of cherry cake, coffee and my knitting. Scrapbooking class is tonight. Hmmm fire, tv, knitting v cold, driving, scrapooking.

In the meantime you can admire my lovely backing for my Writing from Whitehead. I spotted this Tula Pink in Craftsy's bolt end sale and snaffled it. I think it is a terrible shame the Free Spirit line has been dropped, hopefully it gets picked up again.

Writing from Whitehead? I love these photos of Whitehead my nephew took for me. He lives there and braved the wind to take these for me. I like Words from Whitehead too. My actual favourite "sound wise" is Witterings from Whitehead, but that may be rather cruel, and I am not cruel. I have family lives there. I do like a bit of alliteration though.

So far I have progressed from Kelly's photo of her Swedish quilt

to being inspired by the Sacher Torte box design in Vienna last summer
to finally ending up in Whitehead.

And in between I am working on my the Belfast version, the Belfast Bulletin, which in its turn is a quieter version.

In any case, I am delighted to be linking up with Sandra and mmmquilts for the preparatory cutting out stage. Maybe next time there will be some actual sewing.

Helen x
linking up with Sandra and mmmquilts  and her Postcard from Sweden Quilt Along
linking up with Lorna and Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, 26 February 2018

Three Blocks Over, Oh No, They're Not

This post should have been posted Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Don't the days fly past? How did I ever find time to work? The hold up here was just getting down on the floor to lay it all out for a photo. That and the ironing. Yesterday,  I ironed all the seams open, hoovered the floor and got down on my knees. The space in my kitchen, the "working space in my kitchen" as opposed to the "space in my working kitchen" is just about right for the this quilt. In the old days, in the kitchen houses, the working kitchen was the little scullery at the back of the house. Do you understand any of this? I bet those from the northern part of the UK do, even if nobody else does.

The Belfast Bulletin, I believed was finished, with strangely 3 blocks left over. I have laid it out and strangely there are 3 blocks missing! If Holmes and Watson were here, it would be like this. Dr Watson would say "Excellent" and Holmes would say "Elementary" . Another case solved.

I ended up enlarging the quilt quite a bit, by 40% or so. Each row had originally 8 blocks, and 10 rows altogether. Making 80 blocks. I added an extra 4 blocks to each row, making 12 blocks per row, and the original 10 rows. That makes, oh , wow, 120 blocks! No wonder I felt my enthusiasm waning at times. The happy couple live in an area that gets quite heavy winter snow, they will be glad of the bigger quilt.

We may well be glad of all our bigger quilts ourselves this week. The Beast from the East is on its way. Cold air and winds from Siberia, of all places, are en route to the United Kingdom. In the past we have had sandy air from the Sahara, now winds from Siberia. Why do we never get the sun from Florida?  We haven't any snow yet, but it is cold. Under this pile of quilts are three adults watching television in that sluggish after dinner snooze time.

I should really have taken another photo without all my labels. Basically the label blocks are the original blocks. I made up a load of extra random blocks, and tried to fit them in a randomly appropriate sort of way. So, no photo inserted here.

The backing fabric arrived from the Eternal Maker in England. This is a bolt end, just under 4m. There is 3m in one piece, then 0.5m then two smaller width of fabric pieces. Sure won't I be cutting it up anyway? I did see a really nice brush stroke floral fabric I thought would be good. My customer advisor felt my son would think it was, well, floral. I had always liked this Cotton and Steel "vintage prints for the happy recluse" fabric, it seemed to fit the green/blue brief. I think I will be saving this selvedge.

So, I have to piece together the rows. I have the backing. I have no wadding. Quilting thread, I have no idea. My most local quilt shop is closing down, might call tomorrow to see if there is any thread left. If they still have YLI variegated thread, that will be good.

If the Beast from the East arrives as expected I have plenty to do anyhow. I have my Postcards from Sweden all cut, ready to sew, more about that tomorrow. I am still knitting my So Faded sweater. I have gone down the Sea of Stockinette as far as the ribbing. The Sea is on waste thread, until I see how the yarn lasts out. I have gone to explore Sleeve Island, the first of the two Islands. I have decided not to go with my third colour, my daughter didn't "get" it, it was very blue in tone. Hoping the red fade into pink lasts out to the ribbing.

I feel the need to knit my grandson a cardigan for Easter. That's what grannies do? Don't  they? My friend Mo, is a non knitter. Mo's mum was a great knitter, a knitter of aran jumpers. Mo now has a little granddaughter of her own in New Zealand. So .... Mrs Mo is away to New Zealand on a visit with a bright pink hooded cardigan in her suitcase. I hope little Miss K likes it and I hope great granny Edna would approve of the non traditional bright pink!

Wherever you are, I hope you are safe and warm in your own bed, cosy and warm.

Helen x

linking up with Beth and Cooking Up Quilts

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Adapting the Adaptions

A little news, the Belfast Bulletin is moving forwards. We have progress but rather a sideways curved ball too. As of last week, there were 10 rows x 8 blocks. That made 80 blocks in total. This week I have sewn together the first 6 rows, but slightly wider than planned.

 The dimensions are as it stands, each block is 7" finished, so that is 56" wide by 70" deep. I wanted a bigger quilt, so was going with two extra blocks per row, making it 70" square. Well ... never say I am not creating and thinking. I was in bed, thinking about quilting, as you do, and I thought 70", that's 5'10".... our own bed is king size, 6'. A quilt of those dimensions doesn't even stretch over our bed. The average double bed is 5'6", so that is only an overhang of 2" each side. Now, I would never cast aspersions on anybody's marriage, but after 30 odd years of happily married bliss, I have come to this conclusion. The secret to a happy marriage, or one of them, is to have big enough bed coverings. NOTHING  causes an argument as quickly as one person hogging all the bedclothes. I got up in the morning and measured our quilt. It is 82 1/2" wide.

So......... in the interests of a long and happy marriage for my son and daughter in law, the quilt has grown. The quilt now has 12 blocks per row. This makes it 84" wide. Still not as wide as the previous wedding quilt I made for his brother. That daughter in law, asked me how big do you think our bed is? Well, these cold nights when they are up through the night with the baby, they are very glad of the big quilt!

This quilt has been growing rather organically anyway, I have followed Sarah's original layout, but introduced more shades of tone, or tones of shade. I decided just to wing it, not to be scientific about it. I made a ton more blocks, added two more blocks before block A, one block at the end of the row, after block H, and one block tucked in the middle where it seemed to be appropriate. Four per row. I chose the new blocks just as I thought they seemed to fit in. Hopefully this won't change the ombre dynamic too much.

Here's my two photographs one of after the other.
                                                           the original layout, last week

                                                       the beginnings of the new layout
As you can see, I am still super organised. Labels everywhere. That's how to do it. I must buy more pins, or at least some sticky stickers.

I am one block short of 6 rows., some might say I am a sandwich short of a picnic.  There are 4 more rows to sew together, An extra 4 blocks per row. That makes 17 more blocks to make, Crumbs. Hoping my fabric lasts out. 

Helen x
linking up with Beth and Cooking Up Quilts
linking up with Lorna and Sew Fresh Quilts and Let's Bee Social

Friday, 16 February 2018

Beginning the Belfast Bulletin

The chase is on. I have the beginnings of the quilt based on Sarah Goer's Ombre Quilt.

 I labelled all my fabrics.

 I have cut all my squares out, labelled them all. I have paired them up with their partners, sewn them together. Cut them  up, ironed them with seams open and labelled all the quarters. I have kept them all in their respective piles, 1 (1 square of each, making 2 blocks), pile 2  (2 squares of each, making 4 blocks), and pile 3 (you get it, 3 squares of each, making 6 blocks). Whilst doing this, I thought this would be great to do with young kids who were interested in numbers and number games.

I got out the plan, the numbered diagrams. I hoovered the floor. I started to lay the labelled blocks on the floor in accordance with the diagram, taking the blocks from pile 1, 2 or 3.

I decided this was far too hard.

I reorganised the blocks in a new system. All those that shade 1 in block, all those that shade 2 in the block, etc, all the way up to block 7. Again the numbers game. I didn't have to a shade 8 pile as all those were accounted for already. Where are 10 year old children when you need them? Sorry no photo of this step of organisation!

This made the laying out so much easier. It wasn't long until I had 10 rows of 8 blocks. All except those which were supposed to be blocks of shade 4 and shade 1. Four of them. I strangely had four blocks left of shades 3 and shade 2. Mislabelling? In my system.

I also had one space with one random block left. I must have muddled  a couple up whilst crawling around the floor. Unlike a jigsaw piece, these blocks all have straight sides and it fitted straight in. And it looked ok.

There was a momentary panic when I thought this isn't going to big enough. Then I remembered. Sarah in her plan has a handy helpful slide rule. If you want a bigger quilt, you make bigger squares. The actual plan remains the same. I, however, don't like very big blocks but am happy with medium blocks. I would need to make 10" blocks to have a quilt measuring 72.5" by 90.5". This would also be too oblong for my taste. I know historically quilts should be oblong, but I like my bed quilts to be square. We don't have a lot of "real estate" at the end of our bed. An big overhang takes up walking past the bed space. I like my bed quilts to be just over 70" square. I had forgotten this in my enthusiasm crawling about the floor. So the plan always was to make my blocks 8" cut and add two extra rows. I haven't made these blocks yet, as I will see what "fits" and make accordingly.

I took a photo of the quilt on the floor, minus the "rogue block". I then labelled all these blocks yet again. Each row is labelled 1 to 10 and each block is a - h.

 All neatly put in Ikea jiffy bags.  My husband was marginally amused by this, but if I am not organised I have no chance. I then cleared away to "allow" him to make the tea. It was St Valentine's Day after all.

Every day we should learn something new. On Wednesday I learned I need more pins. I used every pin I had in the house in this labelling. I also learned that when taking tiny labels off and replacing with big labels, be careful.  Tiny labels go soggy when accidentally thrown in the cup of coffee rather than the bin.

I love how this quilt is taking shape. From breaking away from Sarah's ombre, I was worried it would muddle her design.  I love how the green and blue run into each other like seaglass. I posted a few photos on instagram, and got a great response. I sent a photo to my son and his fiancée. His comment was "nice". Understated as always, my son. His fiancée was rather more enthusiastic, thankfully.

Now I have broken the back of this, I will cut out my blocks for my Postcards from Sweden quilt this weekend.
Helen x
linking up with Myra, Busy Hands Quilts and not quite finished Friday 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Valentine's Socks

Valentine's Day is to be a busy day in our house. Postcards From Sweden is kicking off. I am going out for "a wee day out" with my friend, Liz, I will be at my Scrapbooking Class in the Evening. I will no doubt have a romantic tea with my husband, hopefully. And I will be starting a new knitting project.

A week or so ago, I bought myself a skein of Strawberry Fields Forever sock yarn from Ellie in Craft House Magic's etsy shop. Sue my IG and bee friend bought one too, and we decided to knit a pair of socks beginning Valentine's Day. Ellie thought this was a wonderful idea, and joined in too. Now Ellie is hosting a Valentine's Day Cast On in her ravelry group. Check out her ravelry page and thread. I can't link you without linking up my own online account! I am really looking forward to this. I have fallen in love with knitting again, and I really love knitting socks. To knit, albeit it virtually, with friends, well that is just lovely, very lovely.

Ellie has designed a heart themed sock which she is launching on the day itself. This will be fun. Now, will I keep these socks for myself or will I knit them for my husband? The yarn just looks like a bowl of ice cream and strawberries. Some of my favourite summer things. Roll on the summer. Ellie does a great podcast which I love to "watch". I know, podcast - listen, not watch. Check out her blog for details.

Helen x