Monday, February 26, 2007

Swaps and applique

First - swaps - I am really into Swap-bot at the moment - like Blogs its a great way to connect with people but by real mail with real items for a change. I love email but I still bound downstairs when the post drops onto the door mat and hate it when its all work or bills or for Dennis.

So, some swap news first

My ATCs got potsed on another blog by the recipent in Germany. Her blog is all about swaps so take a look and see if you fancy joining in.
2. I have four new swaps I started on Swap-bot if you fancy trying it out. They are all letter ones for cheapness.

(a) Know How - we all know things and that's what makes us interesting . So this one requires a letter including a fact you learned from work, a little something you can teach your partner to do (Eg a recipie, a craft tip, a dance step) and a funny or interesting general knowledge factoid

(b) 24 hours in the life of. ... what seems every day to one person is a really fascinating 'other life' to someone else. Plus when we stop to observe what we have around us and do we often are amazed by what we take for granted. In this letterwe will give details of our life and routine for a 24 hour period

(c) In case of fire.... If the house was on fire and your family and pets were safe and it was safe for you to get 10 things out what would they be and why are they so important to you?

(d) Ready Steady Cook. Post six ingredients you love or want to know how to cook. Your parnter will send you at least three recipies each of which will use at least one of your ingredients.

As for quilting. I started working on an appliqued block in Jacobean style today - tulips and leaves on a green stem swirl on cream background. The exact opposite of the precision doesn't matter routine of yesterday. Its for a a gift quilt - hence a different style to my usual quilting. Its very slow butI enjoyed handsewing whilst watching a film. Only trouble is I have a thread emergency - I forgot to buy the green silk thread I need. Thank goodness for Hazel at Just Sew who I know will post it tomorrow and open a tab for me!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My kind of quilting

I had a fun time in Penrith yesterday with Lesley designing our collaborative quilts. We started with the premise that this was a quilt where precision ( not our strong point) was not going to matter. So 'Freedom log cabins' seemed a good start, as in cut a load of strips - in this case from African or African style fabrics in greens and browns- in random widths and attach them in random order and don't worry about the block size - that trims!

We agreed to swap stash fabric and then do ten starter blocks. The idea is to do two quilts so we both get one but we will probably join them up differently with different connector blocks. The stash share was funny as Lesley's was about a dozen fabrics and half of mine filled a suitcase! She had quality fabric from Maggie Relph though so it evened out!

I had a full afternoon to quilt today so got the basic blocks started:

They won't all be togther like that in the end and eventually the centre oblongs will be filled with appliqued african ladies in different styles from the book Quilt Africa. Like this sample block.
I also thought I'd show you some mugs I found on sale in Penrith that I really liked. I got two of each. I rang home and tried to describe the pink ones but all I could think of was 'They look like Amy Butler fabric' ... not helpful to my husband!

Finally, I ended my last post with a flip comment about travelling up by train. In fact had I done so I would probably have been on the train that crashed. I can't really say 'There for the grace of God...' because it was only a fleeting consideration to be environmentally friendly to go by train but it does make you think about making the most of life and appreciating family.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Travelin' heavy

Tonight I go back up to my parents for a quilting class tomorrow. This is my luggage for the single overnight stop and that does not include my handbag. Nor my extension table which I might forgo in the name of travelling light. The black bag to the left is in fact empty but will be a change of clothes and toiletries.
The suitcase then?
Fabric!! (It doesn't quite shut).
The plan for Saturday is to finalise a design for a part foundation pieced, part appliqued pink and cream quilt with curved inner and outer borders for a gift. ( Saying no more in case the receipient is listening). It started out designed with papercuts done with needleturn but that plan is going to be abandoned partly for speed, partly becuase machining is easier on my hands, and partly because the dusky pink fabric I chose resisted any attempt to mark it in a way I can see!
I also plan to work with a friend on a new design for a collaborative, african style, quilt combining freedom log cabins and applique. We have both agreed to make one sample block and to take our African stashes to compare /combine - actually I have cheated - the suitcase containes only half my African stash, together with all the pink/cream fabric... and this class is above a shop....
By the way, the government seem to think that I can do this trip by public transport which would involves a total of two trains and six buses (or taxis). Yeah right.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New books

A very special book arrived today. It is a book of poetry by Mandy Haggith. I've only read a little bit so far but I loved this image in a section of poems dealing with the Scottish loch where the poet lives:


"all washed up

after a wild night

Guinness froth

on a seaweed moustache."

However the real reason the book is so special it it is the first one from new publishers Two Ravens Press founded by my special friend Sharon Blackie. I'm not on a commssion but I'd love it if you just checked out the website and had a browse at the books they have coming out shortly.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

First ever ATCs

I have just made my first ever ATCs. They are Fabric ( but of course) with Vilene in the middle. I need to get the stitching around the edging a bit better than it is at the moment but all in all I'm quite chuffed with them. It is the first time I have embellished anything with beads as well. (Although I fear not the last time I will spill tube of said, very tiny beads over the table/ floor!) The motivation to make them was a swap on Swap-bot specifically for people new to making ATCs, so I am looking forward to seeing what I get back in return.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Little and Large

Thank you to all who responded to my quilting dilemma. As you can see from this photo...

I was following some of the advice already. Buried under the quilt is an extension table. The advantage of using the dining room table ( there are many dis-advantages!) is that there is plenty of table to the left and to the back and I use a chair back to support even more of the weight.

I have slowed down and speeded up. But still the back has those 'taggy' stiches and the thread breaks. I do beleive the answer lies in adjusting the bobin case but I can't because it requires the minutest of Phillips screwdrivers which didn't come with the machine and I don't posess otherwise.

So for now the quilt is to be rolled up and placed on the naughty step until it learns to behave becuase I just can't be bothered with it anymore. I have decided to avoid this repetition of the problem in two ways:

(a) tonight I shall be wrapping up my first quilt to go to a Long arm quilter which is quite exciting to see how it comes back. I am being very lazy and getting her to do the binding too

(b) I am going to play with ATC's tonight. Now 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches shouldn't give me quilting problems. (If you think otherwise let me know now before I get very annoyed indeed!) I just have to think of an idea for somthing that small.

I have signed up for a beginner's swap on Swap-bot which requires me just to make 2 of them so I thought I'd have a go. I have also signed up to swap a tote bag and a smaller handmade bag so I am hoping that those should be relatively stress free!
Yesterday I made this paper design for my City and Guilds Shape portfolio (sorry about the flash - it's shiny card and reflects but without it the card came out blue!)and this bookmark to swap out of the same card.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'm back!

Sorry for my unannounced absence. I went to Penrith for a sewing break and the catching of a nasty head cold left me feeling hot and stuffed up and generally unfit to fight with my parent's incredibly slow dial-up connection.

I had taken an optimistic amount of sewing with me for the three days I had booked open classes at Morceau. I did more or less finish a black shift dress ( just one hem to go) but spent much of the time huddled up against the radiator sniffling and making the quilting comfort food equivalent - tote bags. Here are two I made with linen I snagged in the sale at just £3 per meter.

On Valentines day my tissues, my husband and I went to Sedbergh just into Yorkshire for the sole purpose of going to Westwood books where Dennis bought me these three books.

Now I am back I am sticking bits of paper togther for the shape portfolio of the city and guilds. To be honest I am getting a bit fed up of the design elements - mostly becuase we are not allowed to sew, so any great idaes you get have to be put on the back burner which is annoying.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Quilting problem

I have started quilting this king size quilt - it's reallt hard work to move it !I planned on really big swirls but that's impossible as I cant move that much of the quilt at once. But these smaller ones are OK. This is just a quick practice quilt made with sale fabric so I don't mind that they are not perfect.

So I have two questions for you if you don't mind....

Firstly, do any of you use those plastic machine quilting hoops with the hand grips and if so are they better than the gloves with the plastic stipples on that I am using?

Secondly, I have a problem which I suspect is all about tension but I don't know how to fix it. If I have the top tension at less than 5 I get this on the back - stitching lines perpendicular to the sewing line.

However set at around 5 the top thread keeps breaking.

What doI do to fix this?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Studio loss / button space

Tonight we have invited our GP and his wife to dinner. I was really looking forward to it until I realised that unless I was going to serve three courses and coffee on trays infront of the TV I needed to dismantle my sewing room becuase I sew on the dining room table

So now everything is stuffed into a cupboard :

Well actually there is also quite a lot of overspill all around the cupboard too. It is really annoying me that I can't find one sensible controlled storage system for my quilting. I am by nature an untidy person but even for me this is too much!
In fact this is not too traumatic as on Sunday I am going up to Cumbria for a few days as Yvonne at Morceau has kindly organised her teaching list so thatI can have a little sewing holiday. I plan to do dressmaking for most of the time then when I start flagging switch to some small fun projects. Like more storage bags perhaps.....
Finally - remember the button storage teaser I posed... which none of you answered. (Gee thanks, folks). Well I was waiting for a very long time indeed to go in and do a very simple matter before a Judge at Runcorn County Court. I and the other barrister had resorted from sheer boredom of lounging around the waiting room and reading gossip magazines and talking rubbish. I was still trying to work it out and my colleague was struggling too. The usher - who I hadn't realised was listening suddenly said,
"Easy. One inch diameter buttons need one inch square space. If they are one eight of an inch you get eight in a cubic inch. Eighty thousand buttons need 10,000 cubic inches. A cubic foot is 1728 inches ..." I frowned at that point. "Twelve by twelve by twelve." Oh yeah. "So you need 10,000 divided by 1728 to get your cubic feet. That's about 5.78 cubic feet."
Right. That's me told.
Trouble is I can't get in my head what 5.78 cubic feet looks like. So I emailed Rachelly Rogell whose quilts started all this off. She said it takes a whole wall.
So there. Now I think I should get on with some work!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow snark

Today I was to travel to Watford by train. My cushy first class pre-booked tickets were carefully timed to get me there just in time to speak for an hour at a conference then step back in the waiting taxi and go back for the train home. Easy day.. until it snowed.

At seven thirty I started the media search. Virgin rail's web site said that there was a'revised timetable' but failed to provide it. The link to National Rail did not work. Typing in the website for National Rail led to a crashed website. I tried Ceefax on TV. Virgin rail are running a revised service. Check their website. I tried again. Same same.

I rang. Their recorded message told me that it was snowing so they were busy and I should ring back, then cut me off. I listened to the radio. It told me there was a revised service and I should check the website. I did. Still nothing. I rang again and got cut off.

I sent a text to the conference organiser who was already at the hotel in Watford.

He rang back and said, "I'm looking out of the window and its all white. Don't come."

So I didn't.

At lunch time Dennis came up to the study, where I was busy being very grateful for a spare day to catch up on a pile of lecture notes that needed writing, to tell me that Virgin Rail were on the TV news. Their press statement was that I should travel tomorrow instead.

Is it just me?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Button teaser

Last night I was in bed reading Creative Quilting: the Journal Quilt Project and in particlar a piece about Israeli quilter Rachel Roggel who claims ( I am sure it is a true claim) to have collected 80,000 buttons over 10 years. I wanted to know how much space that took but neither Dennis nor I could work it out. I blamed it on the lateness of the hour but today I still can't quite get my head around it. I did consider signing up for a Quilt University course on Maths for Quilters and Dennis told me I didn't need it. Wrong! (Mind you I am not sure it would have covered storeage estimates. Although that's probably a real issue for most quilters.)

So saying that each button averages an inch in diameter and is one eighth of an inch thick (such estimate being based on the dimension of pyjama buttons) and saying that they were kept stacked up in drawers the size of our bedroom ones, which are about 3 feet by 1.5 feet, how many of those drawers would it take to store 80,000 buttons?

Answers on a comment post please.
Really - I have a strange nagging desire to know. I don't know why.

Also Rachel's website has some great art quilts with buttons on - check out the link on her name above. They make me want to collect buttons..... perhaps that's why I have that strange desire to know the storage required....!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Join my swap!

Today I got to start my very own swaps on and I am hoping that all my readers will join in!

I have set up two.

The first is a Fabric Swap with a difference. We will be swapping a fat quarter or the equivalent in charms or strips of one colour group, together with some pictures from magazines or the like which show that colour being used to good effect with others. The idea is to give you a 'free' bit of material to experiment with and to stretch you to put it with colours you would not normally have chosen.

(Readers who have done the colour portfolio of the City and Guilds certificate may recognise my inspiration!)

The second will be even lighter on postage being a fun Know How swap. All it requires is a letter telling your partner
(a) instructions on how to do somethng you know how to do eg. a craft project or a recepie or dance step - anything
(b) an interesting fact relating to your job or if you do not work outside the home, home or child related fact
(c) a funny or intriguing general knowledge fact

Then send a small light gift like a postcard or bookmark with some relevance to one of the facts. That gift can be homemade or store bought.

If you do join my swap because you read this can you let me know with a comment either here or on the comment facilty on the swap page.

For readers who have not yet found Swap-bot it is a forum for all kinds of swaps, is free to join and allows you contact with people all over the world (which I assume you like if you are reading blogs!). You pick which swaps you get involved in and they include things like pen pal letters, chocolate, magazines, ATCs , teas etc. A ratings system operates to weed out bad swappers to give you confidence in joining in. Check it out!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Quliting break

Juts a quick post before I dash off to Manchester to teach trainee solicitors how to be an advocate. I feel the abence if I leave my blog for a few days as I have just done and hope that someone out there misses me!

So I just want to say thank you to all of you who contacted me about my hands either via comment or privately ( dnomder yes I would love you to send me your dietary guidelines - my email is available on my profile).

The night before yesterday I had spent all day at court sneakily rubbing massasge oil with lavander and black pepper aromatherapy oil into my thumbs. I think I smelled like an old lady ( apologies to old ladies world over!). I came home and thought: Right what am I going to make tonight? I logged on first and found a newletter from Yoga Journal had arrived with a link to this article about violence to the self. I read it and thought - you know what, it's not necessarily a waste of my time If I just lie on the sofa for one night and watch bad TV. So I did.

Then last night I spent it all dealing with various swaps I have signed up for at swap-bot. and sending some beatles stuff to a child of a quilter I met on line at the chat facilty of The Quilt Show. But I am back quilting today- I got three lines of quilting on a bag done whilst the crumpets were in the toaster for breakfast just now!

But time to battle rush hour on the motorway....