Monday, November 27, 2006

Chaos and show shopping

I am just back from a weekend away - first up to Penrith to sit quietly in a corner of the class and just get on with my maple leaf quilt. It seems to be taking forever and I want to get on with some of the so many other ideas I have bubbling in my head... really I only started it in September and given that (a) it is foundation pieced (b) I have made another small quilt, a bag, 42 hand pieced blocks for another quilt, a skirt and two city and guilds portfolios since I started it, and (c) that its the biggest one I have ever made ( should be 84 x 84) its not taking that long! I'm just greedy for quilts! Its well on its way though - photos soon.

It turns out I am greedy for wool too. The second day of the weekend was with my Mum to Harrogate to the Knitting and Stitching show where despite the fact that I don't knit I ended up with these...

(there are actually 2 packs of the blue wool)... well it was all so soft and so cheap ( and some came with free patterns) and the jumpers on the fashion show so lovely.... I have wool but no needles at present as Mum convinced me it was a waste of money to get any when I could use hers. (But hers are in Penrith and the friend I hoped to borrow some from tonight is not in, so all I can do it look at the balls and stroke the oh, so soft wool....

I got a lot of beautiful silk brocades too and some play stuff for C&G purposes ( that's my excuse). At The Coats Crafts stall they were demonstrating a soluble sort of interfacing called Solufleece and showing how you can make scarfs or stoles simply by laying down the yarn between the fleece and stitching then disolving the fleece. They'd made bags too. All very exciting to me ( this may not be news to some readers I know but I'd never seen this) so I stocked up on the Solufleece). I intended to make a scarf but then I succumbed to the wool which will go to scarfs while I work my way up to a jumper. ( The Zip and Amor woolls knit up into beautiful lacy suit scarves rather than warm wooly ones)So then I came up with a different plan:

I bough these threads and others...
with a view to making small parcels of fabric for use in a qulit with silk dupions.

The problem is, I can't get started tonight because the house is in chaos.

This is Dad in my living room cheerfully operating as slave labour and decorating for us. So is Mum but she declined allowing me to post her photo.

This is my study becuase a few minutes ago the shelf collapsed and threw all the books and files over my head as I spreadeagled myself to protect the laptop.

And this is the dining room. Yes beautifully tidy. Trouble is, it is usually my sewing studio but I have been banned so my parents can at least sit down to eat. Which is fair enough but I want to set my machine up..... :(

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Two Ravens Press

Its ten thirty pm and I am just off a train from London so a very brief blog tonight to alert all writer friends to a brand new publishing company Two Ravens Press based in Scotland. As well as seeking new manuscripts that fit their criteria (set out on the website) they also offer critiquing, editing and proof reading services by qualified and published writers and at very good prices. Check them out and sign up for their new newsletter. They also offer creativity training run by a psychologist who I can recommend having used some of her training myself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I have just had my first foray into dressmaking since I was forced to make some hideous floral pinafore dress at school ( which of course was never finished and would never have been worn if it was). The wonderful Yvonne at Morceau in Penrith talked me into having a go and I have to say my first attempt was no where near as frightening as I thought it would be. I took advantage of my new four day a week working schedule to go to a class on a Monday which is much quieter than the quilting class and was able to make, in a day this.....

As you can see its not hemmed yet but I'm going to do that by hand which means I can take it to Leeds and do it in the hotel tonight. I'm contemplating some beading on it too... now I really am geting carried away!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Food processing

The food processor I ordered from Amazon came today. I've managed without one perfectly well for years but got sick of reading recipies that came to the instruction ' your food processor...' and decided I was missing out. Now I'm not so sure. I have a Kenwood one that comes with about four squilion attachments and bowl lids, none of which I have any storage space for. After about an hour of trying to put it all together we concluded that the sealant ring and a jar are missing which means I cannot use the liquidiser or shaker jar. Which is irritating but hardly a problem until the spare parts arrive given that I have both a freestanding liqudiser and a shaker jar already. But the main processor works. It didn't like being fed cubes of cheese and rather than grating them kind of rolled them up into tubes which were interesting but not very practical ( We decided the chunks were too small. It is certainly not that the blade is blunt becuase it sliced my thumb very effectively when I rather clumsily removed it. The blade that is not the thumb. It was a plaster job not A&E.) It sliced the one piece of fruit we had in the house well but having sliced it I then was unable to use it to test the centrifugal juicer. And because the fruit was an apple I couldn't test the citrus juicer. All in all it appears to do by way of a motor what I have been doing happily manually with my cheese grater, Nigella Lawson lemon squeezer and a set of knives.

Except - it chopped my onions without making me cry.
And it came with a great recipie for choc chip oat cookies that I was able to make without getting dough stuck in my finger nails.
Which two things alone might well make it worth £80.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

African fabric projects

I spent some time struggling to make this backback for my elephant loving sister ( who I am pretty sure does not read this blog. (If you do sis, don't worry there will be surprsies too!)

The pocket and flap is in fact straight despite how it looks on this hurried snap but the straps were a nightmare. It's a Simplicity pattern which called for fusible batting but the shop I went to didn't have fusible stuff and suggested I bought the wadding they use for bags in their classes and fuse it with WonderUnder. Which was fine except for the straps - they were so thick that it was impossible to turn them inside out. Possibly becuase the wadding was thicker than a fusible one? It didn't help that I'd mislaid my loopy-gizmo thing for turning tubes and had to substitute chopsticks. In the end I just did straps without wadding - but even then they are so narrow that turning them was hard - I put the chopstick right through the fabric twice.... the air was blue.... still got there - it just needs a drawstring ribbon to pull the top in.

I've also started these blocks just for sanity. They are extremely simple and great for 'TV quilting'. I have been told that handpiecing is nuts but I like having a pile of blocks to sit with, under a finshed quilt, with a good drama. Of course the drama has to be on DVD or video becuase I miss so many crucial bits becuase I look at the seams far more than then screen....

These are in no particular order and the pink will not dominate so much - I just started with that fabric ( all the colours are the African packs from Ragbags). The pattern came from a Kaffe Fasset book and it does look good with lots of blocks and no borders but I might pay around when I have a few more and see if I can do somthing more innovative with them. It seems tame now to just follow someone elses pattern!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Time to discover

November is the month when all the travelling I have to do for work in September and October dies down. This year it is particularly significant as it will be the first month where I really get to test the effect of deciding to only take bookings for 4 days a week, leave a day free for study based activities (writing, invoices, research etc) and leave evenings and weekends free for quilting, pleasure writing and other life stuff.

In fact I seem to be getting a bonus ( not sadly in money terms) since I took my day off yesterday, didn't get any bookings for today anyway, Monday is my regular day off - so 5 days in a row. I tried to work today, writing a bit of a book excitingly ( not) called Family Law - Key Facts, but my husband was all jittery having had to go to the surgeon to have a camera stuck down his throat so he wanted to take me out for lunch. Who am I to complain?! So the legal book I was writing got sidelined a bit and we went to the local golf club where you get a view over the Lancashire plain - which I forgot to photo!

We didn't get back until nearly four and Since I was good and then finished the sample chapter the publishers required I decided for once I had time to blog-surf a bit. Here are some cool things I found today:

1. Fast Friday quilts.
This is a group of quilters who lay down a challenge one Friday a month. They then produce a small art work within the next week and post for comments by other group members at
This is one quilt I particularly liked by Cynthia

2. Alma Stoller made these beads from polymer clay. She gives a tutorial on how to do it at on her entry for 2nd October.

3. I lkied the colours and shapes of this quit made at a guild attended by Marion . See more at Everynow and again ( well quite frequently actually) I see a quilt made by someone else that just makes me want to abandon my curent project and dive into yet another one. This is one such example.
and this was another - also from her site but exhibited at Insbruck quilt show by a group called quilTEXsens
5. Another podcast site at

6. I did A level German but have sadly lost much of it from lack of use. I therefore love as it is written first in German then translated into English. Great for refreshing. UFO in German turns out to be ..... yup you guessed!