Monday, 31 December 2007

Good bye 2007

A good year for me. Quite a few show ribbons and my first quilt ribbon from the USA.

DD has left home for university and has settled in well, and I've come to terms with missing her.

On the downside the cottage problems have mean a nightmare of work and money, but we'll survive that and very soon in the new year new tenants shall move in and officially we are renting out to the Ministry of Defense so should anything go wrong, it should be sorted out.
The world lost Pavarotti,

even if you don't 'do' opera listen to this man, he transcended categories.

My heart is still heavy for the loss of Linda Smith, comedian. It's hard to believe we lost her nearly two years ago.
When I posted a photo of our Christmas tree, several people commented on the picture behind it, now the tree has gone I can show you her. She is a print by Paul James and her name is Posh and she is very nearly life sized. He has given the animals the names which farmers commonly call their stock, so if you follow the link you will find Brittany, Charles (goat) Camilla (cow) (I add no further comment to this (grin)) amongst others.

And I just spread the best colour around to remove the distraction of the various duck egg. It's decided. Now all I need is for my knee to recover fully so I can paint at the top and the bottom.
A very happy New Year to you and yours and a big thank you for reading my blog!
Sally

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Today was spent searching out

the perfect eau de nil, duck egg, blue/grey/green paint to go with the new curtains. This is the rug we got to tie in the duck egg and the sofas. Sinclair thinks it wonderful (well he thinks anything new is wonderful).
Apologies for the bits of fluff, they're from the back of the quilt top.
And this is one of the walls covered in the various samples. The cushion on the mantle is made of the same fabric as the curtains. In the photo the bottom right looks the best but in the electric light the one top right is better. Blue intensifies when used en masse so the paler one will probably look better in daylight, tomorrow will tell.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Could I scream? Yes!!!

Darling DH gave me a new PC for Christmas. Very cleverly he knew I did not want Vista but wanted to stay with XP, after all it works with all my programs (even the 10 year+ ones).
He did load me with Office 2007. Microsoft in their wisdom have decided that if you run Office 2007 then the only spell checking language it will correct is French (and it will do this to your English words). It seems like a conspiracy to make everyone go from Outlook Express to Outlook. So I go over to Outlook and set up a lot of the files. Then I go to rearrange them in my preferred order. Only then do I find out that is not an option. Microsoft have decided what my first few folders shall be and they have also not given me the facility to move them out of the way. This means with the type size I use, I cannot see my folders. (If you name begins with anything after T forget it, you might never hear from me again).
So then I go and download Thunderbird. Nice program, very nice program with one large exception it does not allow me to add a permanent signature line to all my outgoing mail.
Do I sound like a candidate for 'Grumpy Old Women'? I certainly feel like one (grin).

Friday, 28 December 2007

Major, major problem

Can you see it? You'll probably need to click on the photo to enlarge it. As I've worked round cutting out alternate diamonds and getting close to where I've started from, they don't match up. As a plain diamond grid it works fine, but no I had to be clever and make it an alternating grid (what was I thinking?).
I'm sure it can be sorted, but right now I'm not a 100% certain as to how. If I'd used YLI water soluble thread I could just wet the thread very carefully along the lines of stitching, let it dry and redraw the grid (and how I redraw the grid has yet to be finally decided). But I didn't, I used Superior Threads water soluble thread which requires warm water to dissolve it.
I like this thread as it is stronger than the YLI, but this time it will mean unpicking rather than a soak as I can't let the rest of the quilt top get wet and loose my markings.
DH is a mathematician, DD is a Philospher and I'm twixt and between the two. Late last night, I knew DH's solutions wouldn't work and DD just commented that it made her brain hurt as she just couldn't see why and how it had happened.
Tonight we're having dinner with friends. She used to be a high level aircraft designer before she became a quilter. Perhaps she can see a resolution?
Either way, it will need unpicking in at least one corner, and smudging the existing grid lines very carefully (perhaps a damp cotton bud), letting it dry so I can re draw a grid which SHALL match up. That corner of the quilt will look a total mess until it goes in the washing machine to get the marking lines removed.
I have faith there is a way round it, I just am unsure what that way is at the moment.
DH and DD are most sympathetic, they've seen the months of design work and preparation which has gone into this top so far. A very very large Vodka appeared last night to help ease the pain (grin).
On a happier note, way back when we were buying stuff to prepare the cottage for sale, then changed our minds and had to take it back, I ended up with one lot of stuff 3 days past the return date and so had to accept a credit note instead of a refund. We've waited until now to use the credit note as we knew there would be a sale. The curtains in our sitting room needed replacing and whilst I don't normally 'do' ready mades this seemed like an opportunity not to miss. Our sitting room is triple aspect and all the windows have full length drapes. When I made the current curtains I used 44 yards of fabric just for the fronts without the lining. Not a prospect I looked forward to repeating. So these shall be our new curtains. The colour is more duck egg than the grey tones showing on my screen.
When my knee is better, I shall paint the walls a duck egg and liven up the colour scheme with some raspberry highlights (and/cranberry red).
We nearly ended up with the same curtains in a red/terracotta colourway, then DH worried about it looking like an Indian restaurant so that put paid to that (grin).

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Shopping with a difference

We headed out to Bicester Village outlet shopping village. It's different. I've been to a few of these outlet places in the States and over here but this one is in a class of it's own. In this one the sale price of bags are around £400 ($800 US), the men's suits are as high as £900 ($1,800) and these are the sale prices.
The cars in the car park were different, Jaguars, Lexus, Mercedes etc and almost all, this year or last years models.
The shoppers were different as well.
When I was a little girl, rich tourists were Americans, then it was the Arab nations, now it seems they are Chinese and Russian. I'd say about 50% of those shopping yesterday were either Chinese or Japanese. Most were not casual tourists. A lot spoke with public school (public schools despite what the name sounds are NOT public, these are amongst the most exclusive schools in the world) accents. I spoke with one or two Greeks, there was a sprinkling of French and Italian. Almost no one wore jeans (DH being an exception). Dior was packed, as were all the most exclusive of the stores.

Did I buy anything? Well not a lot, I am not a label victim but I did find some nice reading glasses.
My optician has said the off the shelf reading glasses are all I need (with the proviso they are of a reasonable quality). Normally I wear the funky ones at the front with the hand dye look but these have been discontinued, so the hunt has been on for some more that suit. I need a few pairs round the house so I always have a pair to hand. My perfect pair would be bifocals with clear glass in the top so I could keep them on all the time, but can I find any?
I like the funky blue ones at the back which 'glow' like mercury glass. The green ones behind are really dark reading sunglasses, something else I have had difficulty in locating. The next ones have leather arms and look very smart, I shall save these for when I want to be taken seriously (not often) and the white sunglasses were my indulgence (or rather DH's indulgence) they are Versace and come very very close to being the perfect sunglasses. No bits in the middle to catch my hair and nice wide sides to keep the sun from hitting the front of the lens from the side whilst I'm driving.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

I never want to eat again


It seems like a good idea at the time but all this food doesn't make you feel good does it? Today we're heading out (shopping) but at least we'll be away from temptation for most of the day. Tonight is simple fare of jacket potato, salad and turkey (don't fancy cold goose at all).
I'm getting used to my giant screen (or it seems like a giant after my last one). I wonder why the header on my blog is no longer centralised on the photo. It still looks the same on the laptops.
The cutting away of the trapunto on the diamond grid is coming along slowly. There is no rush as I can't pin it up and my dear friend Pauline doesn't have a minute to spare until next year when she (with a little help from me lying down) can pin it for quilting. If you click on the photo, the marks where Sinclair has climbed all over it with his wet paws shows up. Never mind, it will all come out in the wash. My hands are developing blisters and getting quite tender. I had vague memories of this and then remembered how hands used to hurt in the days before rotary cutters. Where would we be without them?

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Merry Christmas

Season's Greeting to all of you.
We've just crawled out of bed at Toad Hall and DH is cooking some bacon, mushrooms and egg (a real treat in this low cholesterol household)
I love these German chocolates, very cheap, very simple and they look so pretty tied to the tree with fine red ribbon. Small problem, half of them were eaten first and I couldn't find the ribbon. The world has not come to an end.

I have a few odd fairies, this one came this year. I love grey haired fairies.

And we've had this gentleman a couple of years along with

his partner.
Mirrors in the dining room give you two for the price of one (grin)

Have a lovely day all of you. Remember, families are for life not just for Christmas, so do try not to kill any of them!
Short break in my blogging whilst we opened our pressies. Santa has bought me the fastest new computer around (this is fab as up until now all my PCs have been cobbled together out of old used parts) and a slick huge wide screen monitor. I should be able to see what I'm writing from now on. (where has my excuse for mis-typing gone?)

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Spider's Web

I love spider's webs first thing in the morning. I'm not quite sure if this one is still frozen or just defrosted but they are magical.
The lovely crisp Christmassy weather has gone, now it's misty and damp.
We've just had a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner. I'm full, over full, not a good feeling.
I promise to try harder not to over indulge tomorrow. Though I have heard that calories do not count in between now and next year......

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Another lucky find

I was so very lucky to find another piece of the oriental painted furniture just the right size for the gap left behind by the Victorian furniture which has now gone into the garage. Again it was in T K Maxx (T J Maxx in the USA), so it wasn't expensive, even better.
I saw it from a distance and it got better the closer I got. Then I saw the top...

and the the side with the herons....

Unfortunately where it has to be in the sitting room means the herons are not on show, but who knows, maybe when we move up to the cottage it will find a place where we can see them.
Despite the extremely cold weather of the last few days a couple of little primulas are braving the surface and showing some colour.



Santa has put two large gift wrapped boxes under the tree... I wonder..... but I will wait until the 25th.

We went to the supermarket this morning and despite my determination just to buy some sour cream, some brussel sprouts and some icing sugar we came away with a trolley load. I really feel there is something obscene about the amount of food consumed in the coming week.
The queue at the checkout wasn't too bad but I heard yesterday one supermarket had a 45 minute wait just to pay.
One of our local Waitroses had Cub Scouts helping with the packing for a small donation to their causes. Good idea, but do I really want little kids packing my food in between picking their noses? Ugh. I packed my self but gave a small payment anyway.

Friday, 21 December 2007

I've been robbed

I'm not sure quite who stole it, but I've lost a day.
I know Christmas was on Wednesday but they've stolen a day and moved it forward to Tuesday!
How has this happened?

more frosty photos and odds and sods

Before you get down to the photos, I just want to have a little moan. Why is it we have to put up with so much dross on television over Christmas. Dickens, Dickens everywhere including the radio. And not just the Christmas ones. It seems this year we are deluged by the complete works. Surely this is too much even for Dickens fans? And then all those Christmas specials and then there are programs showing the highlights of the year. What are those about? Are they for people with early onset dementia who cannot remember the last year? Moan over... just had to get it off my chest.
Some plants just appear to be tropical even if they are not. Somehow they are disturbing when they are coated in frost.

This tree fern is supposed to be hardy down to 12ยบ below freezing.

This little conifer is only 20" high at ten years old, it's normally green.

My frosty wreath on the front door. Poor postman must catch his fingers on it.

And these little crab apples are gorgeous.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

'twas on a frosty morning

that I first realised how slowly the cutting away was coming along. I'm doing an hour or two most evenings but all those curves on the feathers take time, loads of it. Still it's not a race.
The cat yet again knows a good thing, this Christmas quilt has wool batting and it's the one most cats gravitate towards. I did at one point make a quick quilt just for the cats with a wool batting but then they preferred one with far more work in it. Can't win can you?

Remember those lovely berries back in the autumn? Aren't they gorgeous with a dusting of frost.

And frozen roses, the brown ones were frozen last week (and no I don't dead head in winter)

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Palampore, Palempore

I love these as those of you who have been with me a while will know. This treasure was found this week. It's approximately 54" X 88" by Brunschwig & Fils, you know that company that us mere mortals can only dream of (grin).

I have found some others out there but at prices well beyond my reach, if you are feeling flush take a look here at Den Haan & Wagenmakers. My most favourite is at the bottom of the page but at 1,500 Euro I'll have to give it a miss.
I love my one. Sorry about the distortion of it draped over the sofa. The printing quality is superb and it has fifteen colours in it to get such a wonderful result.

And of course the cat had to immediately check it out!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Cat and cakes

OK, I have a cat whose favourite quilts are those pre-marked, not yet sewn, laden with markings and water soluble thread.
Why?
I mean why? And why particularly when he is wet?


When on a sofa just the other side of the same room are a pile of quilts nearly a mile high?

Steph came over today bearing gifts. I know I've posted photos of her cakes before, but have I also told you how delicious they are? I have fantasies about these cakes. She's given me the recipe and mine are nearly as good, but not quite. I've been resisting the urge to bake one over the last few weeks. And there she was at the door with a Christmas one, not a fruit cake but her perfect sponge. Yum. She said it would be better if we waited until tomorrow. Joke, right? A third has gone already.
Thank you Steph!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

A little early Christmas present to you

I want to thank all of you who have stuck by me during the last non quilting weeks. Because my knee is still swelling up even if I just sit, let alone use my machine, I think it will be next year before I get back to actually stitching again.
I've just been playing with my electronic clip board and this is my very first drawing on it. Click on it and play. You can print it off as it is or get your printer to mirror image it, reduce it, enlarge it...
Print a few and have them radiating out from the centre, use them end to end for a border. However you wish. This image is copyright free unlike the other images on this blog. At the moment I'm having to draw on the heavily lined paper supplied with the clip board. The lines are distracting to say the least but I'm going to try and find a suitable shiny unlined paper.
This gadget might just stop me from going totally insane during this 2ND enforced break.
Have fun and if you do use it, I'd love to see how it goes,
Sally

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Double duh! and some homemade angels

You know how I fell and hurt my knee? Well I've landed on it again and this time have strained and torn the tendon. Ouch. It hurts and the doctor has given me some high dose codeine. It still hurts, I just don't care about it so much. I sort of feel like I'm floating over it.
I made these angels a few years ago. This one got named Freddie Mercury and it's stuck.
And this one is Funk Soul Sister (grin).

These bell pulls are a doddle to make. Just stick some individual cathedral windows to a ribbon and add a bit of bought chrismassy stuff at the bottom of each.

A single cathedral window with the gold fabric inserted so you can see how easy it is.

You have time in the evenings to make one of these. They look just as good as a single one on a ribbon as the multiple ones.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Tree and a very camp Santa

Well we found some lights but not the missing ones and it's all but finished (it easier in photos to see the gaps) The poor fairy looks like she has been strapped on (which she is).
I could not resist this very gay looking Santa when I sw him a few years back. He always makes me smile, I think it's the gold trousers coupled with the fairy wings.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

OOOOPS

Steph who helped me with the cottage went over to Germany last year and saw some truly amazing Christmas trees . These were artificial but the tips of the branches were molded. All year she had been going on about them. Would she bite the bullet and ship one over from Germany (about £500). Steph is not rich but she was in love.

A few weeks ago in Costco, I saw what I thought were the same trees but for £70 or 80. I got one for me and rang her. They are 7'6" tall, the same height as most ceilings in new houses over here, but all trees are supposedly this tall and only reach that height if you stretch out the top frond of leaves. Not these babies. I had to tilt it to insert the top of the three layers. This is it before opening out the final branches.
It misses the ceiling by about 1" and the top is a covered steel pole. I could have a decapitated angel on the top or tie her to the side of the top..........
And of course I gave our old tree away on freecycle. And another terrible feeling, we can't find out tree lights. Could they have been in the box with the old tree?
Someone might have done very well, they were top of the range LED lights with a huge number of possible sequences.......
Merry Christmas (grin)

Saturday, 8 December 2007

It's starting to come together nicely


I had these areas between what I've been calling train tracks for want of a better word. I tried the echo meandering thingy and bouncing curves of each side.
I also tried adding dome circles (just roughly to get an impression) and some small freehand feathers. These train tracks are about an inch apart.

I think the echo meandering looks the best so I'll go with that.
I also tried the curves on the grid going width ways. Nah, doesn't look as good. I am pleased with how it looks with the alternate diamonds with trapunto behind them.
I might even get to start on the real thing tomorrow, that's scary this quilt has been so long in the planning that I'm a little afraid of messing it up (gulp).

Friday, 7 December 2007

A little more of the sample today

I managed to fit in some stitching after the Christmas shopping. Why do shops not have what they tell you they do?
I think this is the background I'll use when it comes to the main quilt for this area.
I can't use it here simply because the area is just too tight, so I've done some micro stippling. I don't know if it shows up in the photos but the background is quilted in the very palest of cream silk thread. The effect should be incredibly subtle to give extra oomph to the trapunto areas.

My 440 Berninas have these very bright white lights which is great for piecing and quilting on dark areas but with very fine white thread on white fabric, the stitch gets bleached out. I think this effect is heightened because the light goes round the needle on three sides so this eliminates shadows and I need those shadows for this! I've found a way round it by masking off a goodly part of the light. There isn't a switch to turn it off and on.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

What got done today

Well not a lot as you can see. This is the full size sample but it's only a ¼ of the middle section.
What I like about taking high resolution photos is I can enlarge it much further than my eyes enable me to see and take a really good look at the stitching and see if it's working or not.
I couldn't believe how puffy this wool batting was (Hobbs) then whilst Pauline was round this morning she mentioned it was so creased she held the steam iron over it. She said whilst she did this, it filled out like magic but didn't shrink up in width. This is something worth knowing if you want to add more 'puff' to your quilt. I might try it tomorrow on yesterdays sample. On the other hand I don't really want it this puffed up whilst I'm quilting, it raises the possibility of 'shift' between the layers.
Good news on the leg front, my DH mentioned to my doctor my leg was still swelling up and so the doctor wanted to see me today. He said it is still early days after the fall and it will get better (what I thought) and the good news is he is sure I shall be able to kneel again given time.
I'm just so very happy to be back at my machine. Tomorrow might be a little curtailed as I'm heading out to do some Christmas shopping before DD comes home on Saturday.
We might even start decorating the tree on Sunday.....

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

And another sample today

Today I did a couple more samples and had a play. I couldn't resist doing a Patsy Thompson feather (they are much quicker to do than my normal ones) This one was done using Madeira Polyneon in a pastel variegated colour. I used a 90 embroidery needle for this thread. The background is the YLI Silk 100# again with a 60 Microtex needle. If you recognise the background as Mc Tavishing, take another look. It gives the same swirly impression but without all that bothersome backtracking.
Then I played with different infills for the grid work on the wholecloth. I tried just doing some basic stippling (too boring), then I tried some mini feathers (and I do mean mini, those diamonds are 1"), they looked good except the spines of the feathers developed a line from one diamond to the next. I quite like the swirls and I like the way the curves alternate directions in the rows, a sort of wave like look.

And I've even managed to fit in some cutting away of the batting time. Still a very long way to go on this..... And I've yet to start on the big sample so I can decide whether the alternate diamonds in the grid shall be padded or not.

It's good to be back at my machine. Like coming home,