Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fabric crisis!

Remember the sequence of recent events:

1. Buy Jinny Beyer fabric for foundation blocks

2. Run out almost at the end
3. Order more from US and wait eagerly
4. Realise have mistakenly ordered a shade too light
5. Order the darker shade

.....well, today with great efficiency from Jinny Beyer's shop the fabric arrived. It is too dark! How can this be?! There are only 2 pink fabrics of that design in her range and they have consecutive stock numbers so it's not like there could have been a shade in between that has been discontinued.
I think the answer is this. My nearest quilt shops are either the tiny one attached to the school of Stitched Textiles ( about 35 mins away) which has limited stock as it is mostly there to support the classes these days, or another which I shall not yet name about 45 mins away. Lets just call them QS for Quilt Shop.

QS sells very cheap fabrics. They price by letter on the end of a bolt and prices start from about half what other shops would charge, ranging up to just a little less than other shops. The owner likes to talk and as they dole out free tea I am happy to listen. I have heard several times all about why they won't buy from certain reps who overcharge, how they go to the docks to collect the fabric direct, how they have done certain good deals etc. I find it a tatty, disorganised shop but its really the only local one with a bigish range, they are very friendly and they open on a Sunday which is handy.

At New Year I bought a lot of fabric there, including some African stuff. They had a 25% sale so who wouldn't?! Some of it was of course the Jinny Beyer fabric. The owner was keen to stress that it was genuine Jinny Beyer and that he always made sure people knew that. At the time I wondered what they stocked that was not genuine but as the label said Jinny Beyer on the selvage I assumed he meant that people could not believe he was able to sell it at a reduced price and that he was assuring them he had done another deal. I spied with my little eye, as he was yapping that, it was a 2005 fabric. Aha, I thought. 'Tis how he does it - its end of line and new ranges are now out. Fair enough. What does it matter if it was on his shelf for a while or in my stash. As a teacher said to me early on- fabric does not go off!

Now I am wondering. The first fabric from the US is clearly my mistake. it is a totally different pink. However, this is a scan of the US fabric with a scrap of QS fabric on it:

See how it is similar but in fact faded?

A little while ago I learned - I think from an Alex Anderson Podcast but I am not sure now, how fabric is run off first in in effect test runs then a good batch done then as the ink are getting worn out ( for want of a better prhase) a last run is done. (I know there is a much more accurately technical way of expressing that but I forget!). I suspect that I didn't get fabric from the best batch! Indeed, when I made Caleb's quilt I bought a Disney Fabric from there for the backing which looked suspciousy fuzzy. That didn't matter as it was a small bit of the backing and was for a kid whose eyes were two days old, so to him everything is probably a bit fuzzy, but the combined experience has made me very suspcious of that shop.

I have emailed Jinny Beyer to see if she can confirm that there isn't in fact another shade ( which Is why I am not naming QS yet in case I libel them - and I stress this is my suspicion!) but in the meantime I would say beware of cheap fabric. Although I have to say that if I hadn't had the comparator I would have been perfectly happy with my faded shade! And I wouldn't mind, I didn't buy it particularly because it was cheap so much as because it was local.

As for the impact on the quilt of all this I am now 4 blocks short ( made of 16 smaller blocks) which are 80% foundation pieced and now can't be finished. Hmmm. Time for either (a) panic, tears and stamping of feet or (b) quick switch into problem solving mode for a design varaition. I opted for the latter and am going now to see if my idea of appliqueing hearts with the initials of the recipients will look as good on a test block as it does in my head!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The most amazing quilt i have ever seen

Remember how I was talking about 'slow' quilts. Well click here to see the most amazing quilt I have ever seen and certainly the slowest - not in terms of timespan from start to finish , Erica holds the record on that!- but in terms of hours on it. I calculate that it was the equivalent of a 9-5 office job with 4 weeks holiday for a whole year!! And the result shows it. Take a peek amd weep!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One for Brenda

I appreciate that details of my sewing room might by now be geting tedious but bear with me because another phase has been completed - the drawers arrived today. Not pretty but easily removable for when we convert the room back for dining, the intention was that they would provide extra storage and a press/cut area to my right as I sewed.

My concern was that in the picture on the Internet shop,I could see that the top of the frame had a recessed area. Whilst I had the overall dimensions I didn't know the size of that recess and was concerned it would mess up my plans for use of the top. I ordered anyway. And look. The recess is the exact - exact!- size of my smaller cutting board. Brenda, if that is not serendipity then I don't know what is!! (If you don't know why I am talking to Brenda click on the link on her name!!

As you can see I have been testing the whole table set up with some foundation piecing and it is a dream now.

As for quilt progress there is good news ( yes I can move the long arm back two days) and bad ( my friend who is sending the much needed green fabric can only do so on her return from Wimbledon and so will post exactly 5 days before that new quilting date.) At university I was a swotty work-all-year student so I never needed to pull last minute all nighters but perhaps someone less nerdy could remind me what those legal amphetamine like tablets everyone else used are called!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Working from home

On Mondays I work from home. On the one hand it is a very peaceful experience and a good opportunity to catch up on paperwork that otherwise threatens to overspill all over my life. On the otherhand it can be isolating and its sometimes frustrating to be stuck upstairs doing usually boring but necessary tasks when there is so much fabric elsewhere in the house. However, one virtue I have is that I can be self-disciplined and stick at the work and resist the temptation to sneak off quilting.

Of course, health and safety and general efficiency do require that you do have little micro-breaks from the tasks at hand. So far today these have been nicely catered for by

* A blog comment emailed to me

* the snail mail arriving with some leaflets about Festival Of Quilts tucked in between work related envolopes

* an email newsletter from the Fat Quarter Shop

* a courier arriving with parcels of samples of 20 different waddings to to try.

* a phone call to the self-employed long arm quilter ( who obviously has a better definition of work than I do as she was in Sainsbury's at the time!) to say that I can probably push back the date with her to use her machine back by two days to Monday 9th July which (a) suits as I will go past(ish) her place on the way to a hotel in York for work the next day anyway and (b) Gives me two whole more weekend days to finish the quilt! Yeah! ( Caveat; she said probably - she needs to get her grocieries home and check. Fingers crossed.)

So now, (at 3.30 ish here ) I am going to chuck a suit in a case and nip over to Leeds ( via the post office) for a job tomorrow, hopefully missing the rush hour. En Route at around Bradford I am going to nip to the Borders on the retail park for Zen tea and a read of the US quilting mags and then, after an expenses paid meal (during which I will read this book ( because it lies flat on the table!!) will hole up with quilting podcasts (there is nothing on TV!) and sew more leaves and petals on..... oh come on, three quarters of a work day was not bad going!!

Mum asked my husband recently whether quilting was a hobby or an obsession. Its both - and I'm proud of it!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Busy bee

I wasn't going to blog tonight because I have aching fingers but then (a) I felt guilty becuase strangely I now feel a responsibilty to amuse you all - especialy people like Purple Missus whose I know reads at lunchtime and I imagine her sitting with her Monday sandwich with nothing to read ( like there are no other blogs out there!) (b) I realised that if I don't blog I don't get comments and then my own day is ruined by the international silence. So aches and pains aside, I shall blog.
First, On Saturday we set up a display of some of our City and Guilds work for the verifyer and hid the rest of our files under the table. This is my pathetic effort. It loosk so bare!

The aching is from too much handsewing combined with the arthritic condition. And no, there is no point telling me to be sensible because the gift quilt I have mentioned before has to be ready by 7th July. The incomplete middle section now looks like this.....

Which does give me a great sense of progress but sadly there is still a lot of work to be done on the whole thing and time is fast running out if I am to make my date with the longarm quilter.
I need more greens and have had to send scraps to Yvonne my teacher at Morceau who actually works at the quilt shop in Penrith and so will post be some co-ordinating fabric to save me a three hour round trip. But I also, with just a tiny bit of the other foundation pieces 'star-ish' blocks to do, ran out of the pink fabric. Can I find more in the UK? No... that's what you get from buying from the cheap shop that sells end of lines. Fortunely it is a Jinny Beyer design and she deliberately keeps old fabric at her shop in the states. Yeah for online shopping. And Yeah for quilting podcasts which is how I knew about her shop.
I told them I needed it fast and the package did arrive speedily. I was highly amused to see that the standard US mail package had a stamp on it marked 'Fabric Emergency- Rush Ship.'.
However, due to my stupidity ( which I am blaming on variations in computer monitor colours) I ordered the right design but wrong shade and have had to email and beg for a 'MEGA fabric emergency Rush Ship' stamp!
Also this quilt is taking far longer than I anticipated and so I am sewing leaves and petals every spare moment. Will I make it? Will I have to pull an all nighter this weekend?! Wait and see.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Phase two complete!

My cutting box arrived tonight!
Designed by me and made by my wonderful Dad it is even better that I thought because entirely by co-incidence one of the 'pouches' at the side is the exact size of a Clover mini-iron cover. Plus, again entirely by co-incidence, the boxes from Ikea that didn't fit the shelves when I put the doors on, fit perfectly, two side by side inside the box. It now gives me an erogonomic cutting height.
The whole thing lifts off the table and slides underneath for when I want to use the whole table top.

Now I have so much storage I need to go and buy some more notions/fabric!. Fortunately my Friend Lesley has volunteed to give up three days to go to Festival of Quilts to assist me do just that in August. Meanwhile June Calander in NYC kindly popped an Amerian quilt catalogue in her swap package to me today -its from Keepsake Quilting and has some very pretty things in it.....!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Scraps and threads and eggs

Each time I walk up and down the stairs I am taking something quilt related up or down until my storage areas are organised. The general idea is that stash will be upstairs. However, the newly created boxes above are not stash as such. These are my scraps. Each of the boxes in the lower three layers is 28 x 39 x 15 and are mostly full, with a box for each colour and one for African fabrics. (Tells you a lot about my tastes!) . How can you gather so many scraps in exactly 18 months?!! The back box on top is temporarily full of unsorted scraps and the little one at the front is full of Kaffe Fassett scraps which is really good going as I have not yet made a Kaffe Fassett quilt!! ( There is a half cut out one downstairs though).
My question to you lot out there:
How do you store your scraps? ( and while you are at it - how do you eat your creme eggs?!)
I have read of people who before storing them, cut them into 5 inch charms and strips. Do you? How do you know what width you want your strips or do you cut at whatever width suits the scrap? Do you keep really small pieces?
And how do you store threads? I bought a Super Satchel Thread box which is a good box but the prongs assume the smaller spools of thread and if you store for example YLI machine quilting thread in them you waste a lot of space because the prongs don't accommodate nice rows of such threads. At the moment that box is housing the unsorted scraps and you can see from the last post that I took the inserts and created a shelf narrow enough to house just them. But because of the design of the inserts I have other threads just in the wicker baskets. I can't find any other thread racks other than wooden one which stand up. ( You can lay them flat but they are too wide for the cabinet.)
Photos on your blogs and alert me to look at your solutions with a comment please. Or just a quick comment.
I am sure that there is a new business waiting to happen in designing storage for quilters that actually all fits together!!
Talking of photos on your blogs, Erica posted her very traditional 10 year quilt that I asked her about here. Don't miss looking at it - its gorgeous and well worth the 10 year wait!
PS Does the Creme Egg 'How do you eat yours?' slogan translate internationally? For the record I gnaw the top of mine like a beaver and then scoop the creme out with my tongue. Yum Yum.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Part 3 - (or How Ikea leads to B&Q)

Ok, finally Phase One is (almost) done and I have something that justifies pictures - and no doubt it will be such an anticlimax!

Here are some 'before shots'.

Actually they are not really'before' so much as 'just after starting'. There used to be teetering piles of stuff on the low bookcase and the chairs were around the dining room table. The piles of stuff on the chair in the 'library' and on the table were usually worse! You can see a tote bag one the floor which is what I used to carry projects down from upstairs and then they would pile up downstairs all over the floor. I used to have plastic boxes or bags stacked up at the side of the low case and a bag hanging from a chair with bobbin cases, machine feet etc in. Like this one taken on an earlier day in fact.

And here are the two cabinets and the nice tidy room with closeups of how the cabinets are currently arranged. The content arrangements may well change especially as more drawers are arriving which I will probably use for things I always need on hand... like seam unrippers and chocolate.

The cabinets are not yet full as I have built with room to grow!

I say Phase One is almost done becuase we cannot locate the two screws that go into the door handles of one cabinet. Also the other one is not yet screwed to the wall becuase depsite Den's valient attempts with the drill for nearly 2 hours, the wall will not take the rawl plug. It is packed at the front with wads of cut up cutting board though and so it stable enought to use for now. (Did I tell you I managed to cut through my cutting board the other day?!)

It is Phase 2 because still do do at some point in the future ( and not necessarily in this order ) are:

* take delivery of a set of plastic drawers that will sit to my right by the china cabinet creating a return on my right hand side as I sit at the machine and hopefully, with a protective top on, housing a press and cut board.

* Think about getting better daylight lighting in the room.

* The plastic ruler box is temporary. Dad is putting a last coat of varnish on a cutting box I have designed and he has made. I'll post a piccie when it comes but it will raise my cutting board the requisite 9 inchs from the table to ergonomic height and will have storage inside it and a rotary cutter and ruler pouch on the sides. I am hoping it will be dry for him to send down at the weekend with friends who are up visiting them.

* sort out all the books that were downstairs that are now stacked in the hall waiting to go upstairs as well as bags of scraps and baskets of fabric upstairs that need orgainsing

* I am considering a TV?DVD combination on a wall bracket ( not urgent!!)

* maybe replace the very old chair in the libary with a nice comfortable handsewing chair.

* Making a design wall. I know what I need. I need a 6 x 6 block of somthing solid hinged in the middle with wadding / flannel stapled to it. I can then prop it up againts the library bookshelves or even against the pation doors behind me as I sew. The hinge will allow it to be taken out to be stored in the garage if appropriate. The snag was - what is the solid bit? According to Dad it's easy. Fibreboard with duct tape hinges. Or even Vilene hinges. Fine. Off I go to B&Q. They have never heard of fibreboard. They show me carpet underlay. Nothing like. They show me plyboard. Nothing like, although I decide that if I glued cork tiles to it it might do. I am in a humungous B&Q warehouse. No cork tiles. And in any event they only cut wood up to 5pm despite being open to 8pm. I ring Dad. He is adamant B&Q sell fibreboard. He says B&Q is only as good as the assitant I get. I ask every saleperson in there I can find. They have never heard of fiberboard. I just give up. For tonight I mean. I will get a good design wall if it kills me.

The good news is that you will notice the plastic boxes on the shelves. They are the ones I found in the office supply catalogue only I found them today cheaper at Partners stationery store. They are Really Useful Boxes ( both by name and characteristic). I commend them to you.

After all this I have to say that the room now feels a bit too tidy!! It felt more like studio yesretday when there was still mess allover the table! However I am sure when I have one quilt out at a time to work on and only the equipment I am actually using I will feel its more user friendly. Sadly it will always be a dining room and not a proper studio but I know that I am very very lucky to have all this space and my storage room as well ( I'll take you there another day). And at least now I can get on with actually quilting tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Screwing around

Shame on you those who read smut into that title. I am of course referring to the fact that the Ikea saga continues apace.

I am glad that my trauma provided Helen with a good laugh, that Erica is able to use me as a guinea pig and that Purple Missus is saving money on magazines at my expense. I am glad that English rose and Susan D thought me worthy of a comment too. I think that is a record number for one post and clearly the way to garner maximum reader feedback is to drive myself witless before posting. I can test that theory because we did more Ikea DIY tonight.

The first task was to attach the glass doors to the book cases to make them cabinets. First step - put the brackets on the bookcase. I screwed them in upside down. Unscrew. Rescrew. Put hinges on door. Got that right. Door on bookcase. Fine. Put CD shelf insert into cabinet. Ooops. Now it won't fit in because of the door slightly obstructing the shelf edges. Door must come off. Unscrew. Re screw.

Only one of two doors are on the frame at this point but whilst Dennis made up the hinges on the other door I thought I'd put a couple of boxes on the shelf to make it look homely and to remind myself why I was bothering to do all this. You know, the see through boxes I went and got extra of because they were so cheap. The ones I know fit on the shelf because I went all the way back through the Ikea showroom to check.... they fit on the shelf - but not with the door on. Turns out they jut out by just few enough millimetres to be imperceptible on an open shelf but enough to push the door out. This is becuase whilst the dimension of the case is, as advertised 28 cm, deep the depth of the shelf is actually 26cm.

I enter instant problem solving mode. There are three options I tell a frightend looking Dennis. I put the screwdriver I am brandishing down and he relaxes just a little bit.

1. We change the usage of the shelves so I don't put projects on them. Decision: I am buggered if I am going through all this to not have a cabinet I can use the way I planned.

2. We forget the doors and take them back for a refund. We have two unopened they will exchange but we lose 30% off the two we opened. That will cost us £21.60. Plus I then have open cabinets which I didn't want becuase that sodding book tells you to keep dust off your thread. (Or maybe that was Bob the ThreadGuy on The Quilt Show, but anyway.) Plus that means going back to Ikea. I am never ever doing that. Ever.

3. We buy new boxes and use the others eleswhere. I tell him that, actually, thinking about it, it could be quite handy because I can transfer my scraps from bags to boxes and colour code them. He looks at me like I might have been planning that all along.I find a catalogue for an office suppliers who I know do same day delivery to my house. I even have a 25% off coupon. They have boxes which are 5mm less than the shelf depth. Bingo. They cost more than the big ones of course. Eight will be £38.40. Dennis frowns. I point out though, that we save £21.60 by not going back to Ikea. Plus petrol. Plus the swedish cake we will no doubt need to revive us after the trauma of going to Ikea again. So no extra cost at all then. Dennis is beginning to comprehend the answer to his own question which I so neatly avoided last night, namely : "How come 2 Billy bookcases at £55 cost you £483?"

We opt for number three but decide not to put the other doors on until I have all my boxes and amd sure where I want all my adjustable shelves. So we carry on with the building. I make a whole bookcase all by myself with no mistakes. I am Woman.

I move onto the height extension. I screw the top shelf on back to front and tack the back into place. I realise what I have done. I realise that it was exactly the same mistake as I made yesterday. I do not swear ( unlike yesterday ) because I have put Soweto Gospel Choir on the CD and it is hard to cuss whilst singing along to 'Oh Happy Day, When Jesus washed my sins away'. I do untack, unscrew and rescrew. There are tack holes in the trim of the right side. Oh well, it is way high up high and the holes are very small and my life is fast running out. I bung it up as it is.

Now both cabinets need to be screwed to the wall. Ikea instructions say to 'use whatever is appropriate for your wall'. I ask the wall what it deems appropriate. It is not speaking to me. Apparently it prefers to listen to Motorhead and is sulking. I ring Dad. Dad is out. Work ceases for the evening. I have a nasty feeling that tomorrow might involve rawl plugs and power tools.

God help us.

Finaly let me assure Annica who left her comment from Sweden that, no I don't hate all Swedes. Only those who write Ikea instructions. I'm not keen on Sven Goran Eriksson either becuase even I know that going to the European Cup without an effective striker was a fool decision and I like football about as much as I like Ikea. Other that than no I don't hate Swedes. Apart from Abba and Bijorn Borg, I am not sure I know any to hate... and that last comment, should certainly, even if my trauma is not enough tonight, gather me a number of irate comments from Scandinavia!

Good night.

PS. Dennis reminds me that I also know Raoul Wallenberg and a quick google search tells me I also knew Britt Ekland, Greta Garbo, Ingmar Bergman, Han Blix, Dag Hammarskjold, Alfred Nobel, Anna Lindh, Stefan Edberg, Henning Mankel and Ulrika Jonsson although to be honest apart from the last one I would have been hard pressed to pick which Scandinavian country they were from!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ikea hell.

Don't read this book.

I mean it is a lovely, inspiring, jealousy inducing book but don't read it because it will make you want to do extremely stupid things... like go to Ikea.

I will blog later, with pictures, about the before sewing space and the one now in my mind but for now, let me tell you about Ikea. Really I need to pay a therapist £20o per hour to listen to this tale then tell me that somehow it is my mother's fault. But this is cheaper, so bear with me.

Last night I looked up on line what I wanted. This morning I checked stocck availablity. All I had to do was go and buy it, arrange delivery and later, assemble it. I thought that this afternoon as a quiet 'work from home' day would be a good time to avoid the weekend crowds. So I went at noon and had a sandwich when I got there. So far so calm.

I went to the bookcase and cabinet section and noted down the aisle and collection point for the goods I wanted. I followed obediently the arrows on the floor and the little store map to find the home decoration section. There I discovered that the boxes I had admired in the catalogue were disappointingly flimsy and would not withstand much taking out and putting back of projects. However, they had some wonderfully cheap stacking clear boxes not in the catalogue. Great. But could I get two side by side on the shelves? Mathematically it was an exact fit, but gut instinct told me to check.

So I went back to the shelves. Or I tried to. In fact I walked round and round in circles up and down travellators following arrows, taking the shortcuts on the plan, retracing steps and in the end getting quite sweaty and panicy because it seemed like all roads took me to the children's department with its fuscia walls and scary crab toys. It was like groundhog day. Eventually I found the shelves. Two boxes would not fit. Back to the home decoration. Round and round. Hot and sweaty. The place was heaving with loved up young couples strolling around in my way with their hands in each others back pockets. Eventually I got back to the boxes by which time I decided to sod the measurements and just buy a load of the boxes. They were cheap and would go upstairs anyway if I didn't put them on the shelves.

But to carry them I needed a trolley now not the canvas bag. So down to the entrance. Start again. Gather eight see through boxes and six magazine files. Down to the storage area to buy baskets. Four large to match existing fabric storage ones, six small ones to go on the shelf. Cart now over flowing and things falling off as I make my way to the self-service flat pack area. Realise I need another flat trolley. Have you ever tried pushing two wayward trolleys at once? One bites my ankle, the other sheds baskets one of which narrowly misses a toddlers head.

A man then sees me trying to lug boxes marked 'Heavy: two people' by myself onto the flat trolley which keeps moving back all by itself. He rescues me and I get all the way through the tills to the home delivery point without trouble.

The Home delivery is called Same Day Next Day delivery. Today is Monday. I am told that delivery is to be on Wednesday. I will be at work. I ask for Friday when my cleaner is in. They cannot guarantee a monring. I am happy to wait until Saturday. The system will not let them book so far in advance. I only open my mouth which is located in my hot and sweaty face and the man quickly volunteers to risk his job (obviously preferable to incurring my wrath) by booking a Saturday delivery. I start to pay and say, in an attempt to be friendly, " I did think about putting it in the Vectra but the boxes are always bigger than you think."

"Vectra?" He says. "It will fly into that."

We cancel the credit card and load the car instead. That makes me a happy bunny becuase I don't have to wait and I save £35.

At home I get the lighter bits out myself and sucessfully assemble the shelf inserts and height extension unit. Dennis arrives home and I get the bookcase into the house. First I assemble the whole thing then realise that I have put one shelf the wrong way round so that the unfinished chipboard is visible at the front. I try to unscrew it. The Ikea widgets will not come out. I reckon there are two solutions. (a) put this in the bin and buy another (b) buy some kind of trim for the front.

I ring my dad to ask if such trim is available at B&Q. He tells me I don't need to remove the widgets just turn them to the minums sign and pull hard. He gives me a full explanation of their design. He hasn't got a stick of Ikea furniutre in his house. How does he know this stuff?

I unscrew the widgets and turn the shelf and rescrew it. Dennis rings Dad to tell him we cracked it and I am talking to Mum when I realise that the back which is the next thing to slot in is broken. I hang up on Mum before she gets amouthful of invective.

Instead I ring the Ikea help line. I have to listen ( on an 0845 number) to at least two minutes of advertising. Then two sets of 'press this number' menus. Then I am on hold.... listening to Abba, of course. ( I swear to God it really was Abba). No, they will not send a part out. I have to go back to Ikea.

I have to work up to that. I snarf a Twix. Then we decide to make this bookshelf up using the back from the second bookcase I bought, for a sense of progress. We make it up. I realise I have put the top shelf on upside down. We unscrew it ( because we know how now) and turn it and reassemble. I tack the back on and miss the middle shelf sending three tacks right through the back. I decide that you can't see them because it is so close to the shelf underside and leave it as it is. I stand it up and put some stuff on it. I bought 6 magazine holders. You need 7 for a full shelf.

We go to the car to go to Ikea together because I cannot face it alone. We are stumped. To get the long boxes in ( which is what we are returning) I had to put all the seats except the drivers down. We stand and look at it a while then figure a way to scrunch me up in the back seat and off we set.

The returns people were wonderful. They got me a new part no questions asked. But I had to wait 20 mins while they got it from the warehouse so we went back into the showroom for the magazine file. And some more of those see through boxes because they are just so cheap. And some more baskets because they look good and are just FQ sized and lets face it, I never want to come here again so you don't want to regret not buying enough.....

And now we are home, and I know why Ikea is open until midnight - its not that people want to shop at that time of night its just that they can't get out of the place!!
Tomorrow of course we have to do the other case and then fathom out hinges and glass doors..... DO NOT READ THAT BOOK!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Recommended book

Although I have cut down on my travel dramatically I still do a certain amount. Sadly I cannot guarantee that my nicely planned schedule will stay that way. This week I was supposed do Tuesday - Friday in London which allows for evening shopping and getting together with friends. However, the middle two days cancelled so I end up shuttling back and forth on the evening instead.

This is not a major hardship becuase I travel just off peak soI can afford first class and so get waited on hand and foot whilst I spread out over four seats. However, the trains are now fast swaying trains whch equates to travel sickness to me if I use my laptop so I am limited in the type of work I can do aboard. My usual practice is to do some work reading about as afar as Nuneaton to assuage the guilt then sew with a quilting podcast on. On the way home I sew ( spreading sharp notions and needles over the table discourages anyone from sitting with me if the train is busier than usual!) and then when food is served I read a nice book. ( Swaying trains, food and cream quilt material do not go well together).

On the last trip home on Tuesday I read this book which I highly recommend if you like colourful quilts photographed in beautiful settings and/or foundation piecing. Details are here

Yesterday I suggested Dennis look at the photos. Obedently he did so for about 15 seconds then threw it back saying "41 and 48" referring to the page numbers of the patterns he instinctively liked.

Joy! He picked one I liked too ..... which requires 125 different fat quarters! Now even my stash does not come close to that so I am taking it as spousal suport for shopping! I'm not saying I am actually going to make the quilt but just in case......

Karen K Stone Quilts

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Staying put

Ok, so the verdicts in the comments seems to be that I don't go off to Irian Jaya. The point Purple Missus makes about not getting fabrics so easily out there is a very valid one and I am not saying that you are wrong in your view. I just, as a lawyer, trained in putting both sides of the argument, thought it appropriate to add in some argument for the other side: much as I love fabric, sometimes the lack of it can seem an advantage.

A special thank you today to Brenda who stopped me jumping out of a window. I was trying to provide British Patchwork and Quilting Magazine with some illustrations for an article and knew that once, I had been able to get EQ5 patterns to save as BITMAP files so that I could convert them to a JPG File? But could I remember how to do it? No. (And if you are thinking: what on earth is she talking about, no I don't understand the difference. I just know that one is accepted by them and one is not!). So, after at least an hour of trying and as I was getting really frustrated about wasting an unexpected day at home, I emailed Brenda in Australia who sent the answer back within seconds. Isn't the Internet and blogging a brilliant thing?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hoxton Hip

With time to kill between ending a course and train home ( the consequence of traveling off peak so I can travel first class for £80 instead of an hour earlier for £328) I have found a free internet point at the Hoxton Urban Lodge, the rather hip hotel I have been working in. Trouble is I have nothng to say as I have been knocked into shocked silence by Erica's comment on my previous post about taking 10 years to handpiece a feathered star quilt.

I need to know Erica, did you work continuously on that for 10 years or leave it aside for big bits of time? I assume you made other stuff along side it? And was it still liked at the end of the project? And what does it look like and where is it now? Erica, please post on your blog and I will link to it from mine! ( Meanwhile you can see her first quilt on todays post.)

Other people reading - why not post on your blog a picture of your most complicated and time consuming project to date and comment here with a link.

But it made me think. If I was just finishing a quilt I started 10 years ago, what would I have been doing when I started it? I would have been 26, still a solicitor ( as opposed to Barrister now) but apart from that , much the same. Still in the same house, with same man. No big differences. Is that good becuase I had a happy life that I have maintained or does that make me a very boring person in need of dramatic change and variation. ( No, not you Dennis, you - my man- stay as a constant!)

What do you think? Am I a boring person who needs to run off to live with the tribes in Irian Jaya? Or shall I stay at home with my needles and pension fund?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Qucik quick slow

It guess it is not entirely true that I always go for quick quilts. Those who read frequently may remember oblique references in the past to a gift quilt I was being coy about in case the recipient saw it online. I am now satisfied that the recipient is highly unlikley to see my blog ( but just in case I am not revealing yet who they are!). So here are some shots of a quilt in progress. As you will see it is not my style - but they should like it based on pictures in books I have seen them admire.

This will be the center piece when a lot of green bias binding and hand appliqued jacobean flowers get on there ,rather than the few pinned on so far (Hopefully to some extent at least, on the two return train journeys I have to London this week.)

Thanks to Dennis for holding it up!

The center is bordered by these foundation pieced blocks ( four of which still need to be made)

alternated with these flower blocks.

There is then an outer border with similar scalloped edges.

To finish it I am going to learn how to long arm quilt on it at the beginning of July.

I started it in January but, whilst it qualifies as slow because so much of it is by hand ( it took a long evening just to sew that bias trim on the curved border edge! - nothing in it is difficult though) I can't say that it has taken six months becuase I have put it aside for so long and done other things. It would be interesting to keep a little notebook with each quilt to note when it was worked on, where and for how long.... but what are the chances of keeping that up?!

Oh and here is Caleb's Quit all ready to go in the post on my way to London. I did a different free motion pattern on each piece of sashing. Thanks again to Dennis for driving an hour each way to the quilt shop and waiting in there for half an hour just so I could get some backing. (And some stash. And some thread. And some free chocolate)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Quick Quilts

You know how I said that even I knew that I didn't need to start another project... well, there are always exceptions, right? Like the fact that this morning the wife of the cousin I never see has just had a baby.... well come on, I've had a baby that needed a cot quilt since I've been a quilter.

(The family seem split on whether the name Caleb Noah is fantastic or an infliction on the poor child - what's your reaction?)

So this afternoon I made this top thinking to just do a quick something with whatever I had to hand. Wonkiness is attributable to the photography not the sewing!

Trouble is that because I like to just sew as I go along it isn't exactly cot size and being 45 x 45 or course it will need a double length of fabric for backing and I haven't got anything suitable. ( I may have a good stash but it does still have gaps in it!!) I am designating it a 'crawl quilt' so really it doesn't need to be quick ( unless Caleb is a prodigy) but I don't want it hanging around the house.

So, tomorrow I get to drive to Southport to the quilt shop to get backing and then to quilt it, so Ricky's DVD will come in sooner than I thought!
On reflection perhaps I should not have been so eager to calm the quilt down and should have let it be all bright blocks together? I need to work more out of my natural autumn tones I think.

The top took me exactly 7 hrs to do. I don't know if that is fast or not but it does occur to me that one reason I look at my finished products and am manifestly unimpressed is that I go for speedy and simple over slow and intricate. Perhaps this is becuase the first quilt book I bought was called Quick Quilts to Make in a Weekend and it gave me the wrong impression! I am thinking though of starting something complex with the deliberate aim of working on it in small detail over a long period of time just to reset my mind as it were. Also I think to make myself make something that stays small would be an equal challenge!

But perhaps first, I should finish some of those quick-ish projects that are hanging around!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Swap bag

Thanks for all the well wishes. I am feeling much better, not least because the group I was teachng to day were the most vibrant, interested group ever. They threw about ten thousand questions at me and as I knew all the answers (I should - this was an introductory course and I've been doing family law since 1994!) I felt very smart and its hard to feel bad and very smart at the same time! Some of them are on my course tomorrow too so hopefully the buzz will continue.

Plus On Tuesday when I did come home feeling miserable, Katrin sent me a German patchwork magazine for no reason other than that she knew from a previous swap that I liked it. Now thats going to cheer you up isn't it?!

Anyway - being ill has its uses. On Monday when I was really bad I just didn't work but watched The Quilts Show and then Ricky Tim's DVD on machine quilting instead. I really wanted to go an quilt a whole amish style quilt using all his tips but (a) I didn't actually have the energy to turn the DVD off when it stopped never mind piece a top ( that title music is the only bad bit of the whole DVD which otherwise I highly reccommend!!) and (b) I know that I really can't start another project until I finish some up.
However, I had a swap to complete - of my own devising- where we have sent some craft items to our partners and have to make them up into something of our choosing and send them back. So last night when I had a bit more oomph, I started this bag - the black fabric was sent the cotton lame at the edges was mine.
and quilted it using 'ricky doodles' from the DVD
They photgraph in this light really badly but I am pleased with them. I still have to finish sewing on the ribbon band, add a ribbon tie and some beads and crystals I was sent but I am hoping my partner will like it. ( And that she is not reading this!)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Unwanted souvenir

It is a standing joke in my family that my Dad and I react to illness in very different ways. He crawls away like sick dog and hides. Once, on a ferry, he did that so sucessfully that, when my Mum couldn't find him after they had docked and their car was blocking the flow of traffic off the boat, the staff became convinced he had fallen overboard and Mum became appropriately panicked. Turns out he had crawled under a stairwell, lain down on the floor and fallen asleep.

Me? Well the whole word needs to know I am ill. And now look - I have a blog at my disposal to make sure that very thing happens!

My noes is running faster than Ben Johnson on speed. And I am not far behind getting to the bathroom. My throat is as sore (in the American usage of the word) as a British primeminister told recently by Mandela that he will be remembered as Bush's foreign minister and I have the kind of earache that I imagine Hilary gave Bill.


Plus I made it to the post office - cum - convenience store but couldn't face the three extra yards to the chemist so I bought 'Spa Soft Tissues' which are about as soft as Rambo. Anyone need a sleigh pulling tonight?

Monday, June 04, 2007


No thanks to BA who did everything they could to make our return trip nasty, we are home. ( thumbs up to BMI who rescued us and our at-the-time-missing bags at Heathrow and, five minutes to the gate closing found us three legroom seats between the two of us).

I will spare you the blow by blow account in favour of some photos and captions:

For both our stays in Marrakech we were updgraded to a suite
Did that mean we ate in the fancy restaurant in the hotel. Of course not - not when there is cheap street food on offer...

Eating at the No 12 street stall in the square in Marrakech gives cheap tasty food and oodles of people watching entertainment. We had several meals there last time we went and four this time.

Eating at no 117 stall, however, gives you food that looks just like this food from no 12 but for Dennis at least it came with added tummy upset. Yuk.

Quilt inspiration pieces ( known to the locals as carpets) are are scarf stalls. Wanna be a Toureg anyone?!

Escaping the frenetic traffic of Marrakech for Kasbah Ellouze was well worth it. This is the view from our bedroom window.

On holiday you learn something everyday. On Thursday I learned two things (a) riding a camel hurts. it was only when I got a massage in the Sofitel back at Marrakech on Saturday that my inner thighs stopped aching (b) there is not a lot of point getting your Berber guide to take the photo of you on said camel.

I prefer rental Toyotas but following the directions the french owners of Kasbah Ellouze gave us to get to Chez Talout for lunch we did start to wonder if we had offended them. It was not exactly a pictureseque road. In fact it was not a road. who would guess that just a few hundred metres ahead of that photo, hidden in a dip was a house with this view on the otherside of it. An oasis. Very biblical. (But with great tagines)

I have returned with a sore throat though - combination I think of desert dust from Ouazarate and airport airconditioning. No matter. Dennis has offered to buy me a quilt book for doing all the driving over the precipitous Tizi n Ticka pass which everyone but me seems to think is dangerous - I loved it. (There are no photos though as I was busy negotitaing hairpins and blind bends with crazy taxi drivers overtaking and Dennis was busy clinging to the car door handle and commenting on every time a piece of crash barrier was missing!) So, because I don't have to return to work until tomorrow afternoon, I am going to curl up this morning with existing books knowing that there is another to come. Aren't I lucky to get presents just for enjoying myself on holiday?!