Sunday, December 31, 2006

City and Guilds - Texture 1

I realised yesterday that I had failed to keep up with my intention to blog about my City and Guilds Course and consequentially have skipped over the colur module completely! I will return to it. At the moment we are doing texture and have been told to do it on the theme of texture at the seashore or in the sky. Which inspired me dragging my poor husband to a freezing beach in the rain. (In my defence it was not raining when we left)

Formby point is our nearest decent beach and is only 40 min drive away but we never ever go there. It is also a National Trust red squirrel reserve - there is a forest leading up to dunes before the beach. We didn't get to see any this time but we had a bracing walk!

Here are just a few of the photos I took of texture-y things. I now have to work out how they inspire me. ( Not very much at the moment!)

(oil I think - yuk in terms of the environment but lovely marbelling effect!)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why not to shop in the New Year Sales

This is a consumer story especially for Brenda - I know how much she enjoys them!
It's also the story of how it took me from 11.30 to 4pm to buy an MP3 except I've stuck to the worst highlights!

The first highlight was when after comparing goods in three stores ( none of whom actually put the salient information on the shelf sticker so you have to hunt down a teenager on their holiday job to try and get some product information) I bought a Cream MP3 on sale. I took it home, inserted the CD and wondered (a) why the rechargeable battery would not charge and why the instruction manual had entirely different pictures in it compared to the product. Answer: because it was an entirely different ( and of course) inferior product in the box.

Back to the shop. Excercised consumer choice and decided not to shop there again. So headed to Currys to be faced with a gridlocked town centre as every man and his dog headed for the sales. Smugly I drive the long way round on sneaky shortcuts to get to the out of town retail park which I assumed would be quieter as it had been earlier. Not so. people were now fighting over car park places. Literally!

Eventually I got in the shop and chose 2 substitutes. The MP3 players are displayed with a model tied with an alarmed wire to the (lack of) information display.
I found a salesman. "I'll have either of these two"
He vanished to the computer.
"We don't have the white one. The Prescot store has 5 of the black one but its not £59.98 as priced. Its only £29.98 now."
"Fantastic, I'll go there. Can you reserve it for me?"
Man vanished. Returns. "Prescot don't have 5. Speke have one."
"Fine. I'll go there. Can you reserve it?"
Man vanishes. Returns. "Speke don't have one."
"Can you sell me this display model?"
Man vanishes. Returns. "No. We've lost the box and USB wire for it."
"Can you recommend somthing else with similar fetaures?"
Man pauses. "Have you tried going next door to PC World?"
I look surprised and sweep my hand in the directionof the 30 or so display models. "You don't recommend any of these?"
"We don't sell most of them. You can tell because the price ends in .98 or .97. That means its a clearance model."
I examine my first choice. It ends in .98.
"So you don't actually sell this one at all?"
"No." He examined the card on the shelf then removed it and took out a biro. "But its not £59.98 any more. Its only £29.98." I watched him alter the price replace the card, resisted the urge to hit him and went to PC world!

The good news is that I have a reasonably priced MP3 albeit with a little less memory than I hoped but ample to transport quilting podcasts with me which is mainly what I wanted it for. That and for some pumped up music to run to in the gym. For which I need about 1KB memory given howfar I can run without collapsing!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas presents

We are just back from a few days at Sunningdale (my parents B&B just outside of Penrith in the English Lake District. I am very jealous having had a quick look at Brenda and Erica's blogs - both have been dying fabric which requires sunny weather as far as I know - OK they are in Australia but nontheless .... we drove home today mid-afternoon in the dark and lashing rain. (I was going to post a picture of rain from Google images but all they give you are nice warm raindrops on tropical lush leaves - its not like that here!)

Still, I have enough chocolate to survive inside for some days so I'll just stay here by the fire with my Christmas presents which include - from my husband - all the fabric needed to make this quilttop from Kaffe Kassets Kaleidosope of Quilts

Not my usual colours at all ad when you look at them individually they are hideous ( to my eyes) but that's OK because I told him to challenge me and I do like the end result so I obvously am about to learn about colour blending! There seems to be a theme going as I got this book too.

From my Mum this book

and this one from my sister.

(Apt given my last post!)

And from my mother-in-law a large cheque so I can go online now and buy more quilting things. Yeah!!

I was asked by Erica which manufacturers the African Fabrics I posted last time came from. These two have no real marking on the selvage except that close to the selvage in the pattern selvage is the word Homeland which I am guessing may refer to Homeland Mart who seem to import African Fabrcis ( google Homeland fabric and the firm comes up).This one is The Riverbed by Benatex Style 1303and this one has no clue at all.

They all came from so if you emailed them and sent these photos as picture attachements I'm sure you could track thenm down or order online from them. The shop is closed for refurbishments to 14th Jan though.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

To reverse or not to reverse?

I have had the house to myself today (a rare occurrence) becuase Dennis is off in Northern Ireland buying my rather spohisticated nephew Starbucks Caramel Cream Frappachinos. I would say that when I was a child a simple milkshake was a major treat but I won't becuase it makes me sound old and I'm not really! Anyway it gave me a chance for a good old quilt and this is a photo of the king-sized quilt top I started on Thursday evening did a bit on yesterday after work and finished at 6pm today. Secret - BIG blocks (15") and no templates or pattern - just a pile of FQ's (Almost all Bali Batiks bought very cheaply earlier this year from the Fat Quarter Shop) and lots of freestyle rotary cutting. I suspect the quilting will not be so quick!

I had two cases in the Southport County Court yesterday and so took the opportunity to spend lunchtime at Crafts and Quilts which is only a couple of miles away from the court. It is really my local quilt shop ( ish - its 45 mins away) but I haven't been before because its 45 mins in a direction I never drive and I am up in Penrith at Just Sew frequently anyway for classes (1.5 hrs away). However, I find it has a good stock of fabrics. Not so good on threads - I was unable to get a netural coloured Guterman thread for piecing because the rack was half stocked ( perhaps just the time of year with hordes of panicked quilters stocking up there instead of Tesco's supermarket?) but I did get these great African style fabrics plus some others to make a pieced back for the bed quilt. ( the blues are much stronger than on these photos).

Or should I just get one backing fabric for the first quilt and make a fresh one with these?! What is the view of you lot out there - are reversible quilts a good idea or not? I appreciate that if you are quilting in specific areas of the quilt it would be a nightmare to match front and back but if we are doing free motion all over quilting - why are most quilts I've seen not reversible? Views please.

Anyway - I was impressed with the shop - I got a free cup of tea as I browsed and some chocolate caramels. Then when I expressed frustration that I'd arrived a day too early for the sale I got 1o% off anyway ( after I wheedled a bit!) and a free bunch of bananas. I missed what the guy said when he was explaining why he had bananas in the first place so I'm a bit puzzled by that but was grateful for them!

Tomorrow we go to stay with my parents in Penrith for Christmas so I am going to take a blog break for a little while. I hope everyone reading this has/ has had a great holiday.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My brilliant nephew

I don't usually use this blog for personal messages but I hope readers will forgive me this once. My husband has departed for Ireland today to see his family ( untroubled by the fog thank goodness) and has just rung me to say that Neil Woodock, my young nephew, wanted me to hear something. I then got a perfect rendition of Beethoven's Ode to Joy played on the piano down the phone. (Twice). I know Neil also wanted to check out this blog to see the bear photos so this post is a special message for him:

Neil: Sorry I couldn't get over to see you but the piano playing was FANTASTIC!!!! I am dead proud of you. Hope you like the blog. Keep beating Uncle Dennis at the games! Have a great Christmas
Auntie Helen.
PS I wanted to keep your Christmas presents from us but Uncle Dennis wouldn't let me!! You'll see what I mean on Monday!! :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bodecott Bear

Meet Bodecott bear ( named after the teacher who rescued him when I made him hunchback by sewing his shoulders to his legs and his bottom where his neck should be.)

He's kind of boss eyed and pigeopn toed but as he is going to my sister as a Christmas present and she is a bear collecting paediatric nurse I think he'll be in good hands.

I just think that perhaps I was over optimistic in making him as one of her main presents and that Bodecott's outing might be to go and buy a gift voucher for him to hold!!

PS I don't have orange walls - its actually a deep maroon red!

Postives and negatives

1. Clearly this is a negative - watch out for those nasty rotary cutters .

It looked worse when the finger bandage was on - the advantage of having a nurse in your quilting class.

2. Positive - I swapped to new Blogger this morning, disencouraged by the heavy hints from Blogger that my old blog was sadly out of date and encouraged by Brenda's account of having done so with her guild blog. Its easy peasy! (And for now with just minutes to go before I have to leave for work I am ignoring all new features so I don't know if its better or not).

3. Negative - my camera is playing up and is running batteries down at a daily rate if I leave them in so I have to take them out then try to track them down when I want to show you something. Very irritating as it is not that old a camera and certainly not a cheap one.

4. Positive - work is well underway on wall hangings for my newly decorated lounge. I bought a whole load of end of roll dupion silk at £7 per metre and challenged myself to just cut it all up and sew together (no patterns or templates) until it was all done and I had as many 36 x 36 quilts as I could get out of the material. These are the blocks for the first one, hopefuly to be sewn together later today.

5. Negative - My husband says that the European Center of Patchwork near Narbonne is the other end of the country from our planned city break in Paris next summer, far too far away ... and I know he is right but it will be nearer to Paris than it is to here and I want to go...!

6. Postitive - I found a patchwork shop by the Notre Damme to visit. Ha!

Friday, December 15, 2006

new blogger

I have just got a comment from a brand new blogger who is pleading for comments to encourage her on her new quilting blog - she's brand new to it. Don't know anything about her but I too long for comments so check her out and say hello to her ( and then tell me you've done it!!)

Monday, December 11, 2006

At last!

At last - the top is finished! I started in September and it seems to have taken for ever.
I had a mini disaster -I had just two outer borders to go when a drama with Victoria Wood I wanted to watch came on ITV. I pinned in the living room and when the adverts came on dashed into the dining room to sew... catching the pinned lower border on the door knob and ripping six one centimeter holes through inner and outer borders. Grr. Had to unpick and add more seams than a wanted but still - I'm pretty pleased with it. Its the biggest I have ever done.

In a few spare moments tonight I also started to play with possible blocks for a silk wall hanging for the lounge.

Friday, December 08, 2006

On a more positive notes

Today my first article on quilting ( as opposed to law) appeared in British Patchwork and Quilting. It is about quilter's blogs so it is ironic that even though my copy arrived this morning and I had optimistically taken it to court to read in hope of a lull in business (fat chance!) I only reaslied it was in this month's issue when I returned home and got an e-mail from Brenda Smith ( who I 'met' via her blog) saying she had had a comment posted from a new reader in Scotland who had found her via the article. So I know at least one person read the piece!

Blog frustration

It has taken me five days to post the entry below because Blogger has just refused to let me post the photos without which the entry was meaningless. Even now it will only do three out of four. Does anyone else have this problem?

Anyway here is what I can give you from Monday......

I may have been a poor blogger recently but I have been busy. Today my house was transformed into a film studio complete with blinding lights and two cameras no less trained on me as I recorded five seperate programmes for a legal training programme on the internet. ( Anyone sad enough to want to will in the next few days be able to few part of the broadcasts free on in their family law section There are such thrilling programmes as 'seven capital gans tax traps for family lawyers to avoid'... wow!)

I have also remembered how to knit with the patient help of my Mum who taught me in the first place when I was a child./ She rescued this scarf (ably modelled by Solomon our teddy bear) when I started out with twenty stitches and then realised that somehow I had twenty-seven. (Ribbon wool: note - take care not to knit through the yarn). I liked it so much I immediatly started on this one {missing - see above!!} which I will finish tonight whilst vegging out in front of trash TV. I'd love to use this yarn for a jumper but bought it unwrapped and cheap at Harrogate so if anyone recognises it and can tell me where to get it I'd be grateful.

I've also been putting time into my seemingly never ending maple Leaf Quilt. This is the centre of the pieced back - it will have large green leaf borders

and this is the almost done front centre.

I will probably move some of the blocks around before sewing the rows) I though I'd done the maple leaves at the class last week bar two but irritatingly I find I am five short. However, purchase of a mini iron last week is making the job much easier although I now get no exercise -not even that of getting up and down to the ironing board.

I plan to take this one to Bradford to use Chris Marriage's long arm quilter but shs is about to move to a new studio so her site is available for viewing but not purchase at the moment and I won't be able to have a go on her machine until Feb or March. Tonight I plan to get all my books and photos of quilts out and decide what to do next - I need at least two wall hangings for the newly decorated lounge and it seems daft that I haven't yet made a quilt to go on our bed, so despite the temptation of such books as this recently acquired one I must focus!

By the way -can anyone tell me - do I want to change this account to the new blogger or is it just going to give me grief if I swap? Is it any better than the current one if I am not a techno geek?!