Tuesday, 30 September 2014

I am a moron.

I could go on about it but what is the point? I designed the final border for the machine appliqué quilt. I was pleased with it. I traced the required four copies onto freezer paper and onto the fabrics for placements. I pinned the first border to the quilt top (and thank heavens I didn't applique first) to find it is massively too short. Not a whole motif too short (that would be too easy to sort out) but just over a half of one. I will not shoot myself but haven't been able to face going back to it yet.

On the upside I painted the front door, it was navy blue last week.

And we took a trip to the lovely Gower Peninsula in Wales.

To get there we drove along the south coast of Wales on the M4 motorway. I glimpsed a castle through the trees. I wasn't fast enough with my phone when travelling 70mph to get a photo but managed this on the way back.
Sorry about the quality of this. I forgot my camera and the speed combined with small gaps between the trees, all amounted to this. This may or may not be the newest castle in the UK. One day soon we shall have to visit it. Meanwhile you can find out about this little bit of total fabulousness here. Castell Coch was built on the much earlier remains of an earlier castle in 1870.

And on we went to the Gower Peninsular. Past Cardiff, the capital of Wales, past Port Talbot, somewhere which looked like the end of the universe from what could be seen from the M4, past Swansea and the over a cattle grid and onto the Gower (apparently it is wrong to call it The Gower, but everyone does so I will too).
This particular cow was a little worrying as she was missing an eye on her side closest to us.
She was following her calf who came within three foot of the car.

Then we drove for about half an hour, down narrow lanes (with some large vehicles) and saw the sea.

We drove on until we reached Rhossili. 
We weren't particularly looking for anything but Tripadvisor had recommended a bistro for lunch. We drove into this little hamlet and the only parking was in a private field/car park. It looked a pretty little place but at this point, nothing amazing.  Then we walked round the edge of the bistro and this was in front of us.
This was our view sitting on the terrace. That little white dot to the left of the house is quite a big house, just to give you an idea of scale. And what looks like a little smear in the sky above the house is a hang glider. We were so lucky to really just happen to have a warm day in late September. I imagine the whole place is crowded in the school holidays.
It was perfect conditions for hang gliding and there were up to eight of them above (and below) us at any one time.
Nothing was quite normal on the Gower. The sheep thought they were mountain goats. Those little black dots down on the beach above the sheep in the photo are people.
Rotating left from here is Worm Head, (not what we think of as worms, apparently it is Old English for dragon).
 And that is probably more than enough of this beautiful part of Wales for now.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Decision on the design.

Those bits of paper are the result of three and a half days of marking, rubbing out, remarking until I have a design I am happy with for the machine appliqué quilt. In the evenings I have been sewing the elipses for the Di Ford Mystery quilt. I have nearly finished the third side, so I am hopeful it will be all done in another week. I tend to do this in the evenings. It takes precedence over the hexagon quilt until each round is completed. That way I can stay up to date and it will not become another UFO.

On Sunday we went to the Abergavenny Food Festival. It is an event which takes over this country town. They close off the streets and food vendors are everywhere with some of the poshest ones in the market place where you have to pay a small admission charge to get in.

Outside the main event was this onion seller. The French onion sellers, famously used to go round London and the south of England on their bikes in their Breton striped tops and their berets.
I didn't get close to this stand but I don't believe they were really selling this!

I didn't get round to tasting the Welsh cakes.
We came home with this haul. The British Cassis was so very much better than the French. I doubt we will make Kir with anything else anymore. The Brownies were made in heaven, the smoked oil is lovely for dipping good bread into with a nice glass of red, the baklava was almost as good as my sister's Greek mother in law used to make from scratch. The homemade chutneys have made DH very happy. The only downside were the cupcakes which tasted nothing like as good as they looked.... You cannot win everything.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Designing and prepping

 Part Five of the Di Ford Mystery quilt has arrived. I have the first four ellipses stitched down. I am managing to get a little faster, now I think I have got it to 20-30 stitches per inch instead of the stupidly high number I was doing before.

 They are all prepped and ready to go. All 56 of the ellipse shape plus the four circles for the corners.

 Meanwhile I have started to design the final border for the machine appliqué quilt. I thought swags might be the way to go with the same flower from the rest of the quilt between the swags. But I want loads of room for fancy quilting..... The tools of my trade for designing these was a calculator to work out what width to go for and my acrylic rings. Except I needed a bigger ring. I could have got out my beam compass and drawn a larger circle but the point of the compass would have been way off the paper. I just wanted (needed) a bigger round thing. I had the lid of a frying pan but that was in use (feed us tonight or get the design finished?). I went round the house looking for large circles. Then I found the huge chocolate box lid. Perfect (I swear when I bought my husband those chocolates it was not to add another design tool to my kit.)
BUT after working it all out, I am thinking I might like to go round the inside and the outside of this border just with some sort of dogtooth triangle arrangement. Then I could do loads of big feathers with trapunto...... Procrastination rules.

 I am lucky I got anything done this week at all. I went to the dentist on Friday for the next stage in my dental treatments. Three more extractions and five (that's right FIVE) implants. I had not realised they have to drill into the bone to insert each implant. I had tried not to think about it but if pushed I would have thought something like a self tapping screw. It is odd the way my mind works in such times. I imagined my body being found on a beach and the police identifying me by the serial numbers of the implants. (note to self: stop reading crime thrillers on going to bed) There is more to come and the treatment will not end until shortly before Christmas. I am back this Friday to have the stitches out.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

I have been playing with the hexagon rosettes.

I have been playing with the little hexagon rosettes and wondering about possible layouts for them. I could go something like this with stars in the corners. I have also been wondering about having them in a circle round the central star....

When I see creams, beiges or snow white fabrics going cheaply I dive in and buy a bolt. I can always use them. The problem comes when you are doing three quilts at one time with three slightly different creams.
Believe it or not these four fabrics look identical in daylight and also in the photographic lights in my studio. I just took this photo so you could see how they all look the same. Now I know to take a flash photo with the camera (not the phone) and immediately the differences become apparent. Always happy when a solution just happens. Each of the creams has been labelled now.

The weather has been getting cooler, not a lot but you can feel autumn in the air. And the cats stay indoors more and ask for their supper on the dot of 5pm.

George on one of the kitchen sofas
And Rosie helping me with the machine appliqué quilt....

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

By the skin of my teeth.

Part Five of the mystery is coming any day now and I finished Part Four today, with the exception of the little hexagons to go into the corner blocks. I will do those after Part Five as I find it better to centre them afterwards.

It will only take another few minutes to have them ready to appliqué.

The flowers in the garden are having a last fling before the autumn is here completely. It hasn't been cold or wet, but it has been grey. And it is dark by 8pm.
On the up side cold nights are better for sleeping.....

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A problem with a simple and cheap solution.

That doesn't happen often does it?
 This is the sofa in the kitchen where I sew my hand appliqué and hexagons. To tell you the truth it is normally worse than this but I cleared a lot off to go to a sewing group last night. Rosie is in my place...
 I found this little cart on Amazon for under £15 (it is probably even cheaper elsewhere in the world). I might line the shelves with fabric to stop things falling through or I might just add more tubs. The great thing is, I can now clear the sofa in seconds. And hide the cart in the sewing room or the laundry. I will be Mrs Superwife! lols.
I cut out all my triangles for Part Four of the Di Ford Mystery this afternoon. There are 12 of each fabric. I hope to get them sewn over the weekend. Notice I am saying hope not will, I know life gets in the way sometimes. The NATO conference is down the road this week so going out might not be an option, so I remain hopeful.

About the RuleSteady I posted about in my last post. I have found two sources. I found the makers and they are in Australia. I got a lovely email from her which I shall post here. Be sitting down, it is not cheap but if you have problems with age or health then I really recommend it. Put it on your Christmas list. She is talking in Australian, not American dollars. The RuleSteady website. and the American site which carries it here.

"Wow – thankyou for the great blog post! We currently only have one outlet in the USA, as when  our $ rate went up, so did the cost to them....we ship direct to anywhere in the world, and the shipping is what kills us. The only way around it is to send them sea-freight, which means ordering a pallet load and waiting a couple of months....not particularly helpful unless you’re a large shop or distributor.
The following is what we charge (in case anybody contacts you) – in Australian Dollars, as it can vary from week to week I don’t want to give todays exchange rates because they won’t be accurate for long! I use http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ to get rates when I need to ship overseas.

The RuleSteady itself is $55

Shipping :
UK $40
USA $35
Canada $35
New Zealand $25
Netherlands $40

The costs above are using Australia Post Air Mail. We don’t use pack and track International as it does not offer insurance. We pay the extra to have the parcel insured and do not pass that on to our customers.

I’m well aware that this is an investment in a tool – but it truly is worthwhile. We are constantly receiving feedback from customers who not only have surface issues (which drive all of us crazy with the ruler slipping!), but people who no longer have to get friends to cut for them due to an infirmity – for example, arthritis, carpal tunnel, early stage MS....I’m not trying to spin you any wild stories,I promise, these are people I talk to and I know we’ve helped them. It just makes it so easy to get through the cutting time and get to the fun stage of sewing and putting quilts together!

I have FSH Muscular Dystrophy, and have upper body weakness because of that. If it wasn’t for my husband inventing the RuleSteady, I’m pretty sure I would not still be quilting. I was still quite strong when he did so, but have gone downhill quite rapidly recently – yet I’m still not scared to cut, or worn out from doing so – which I attribute entirely to this invention.

Oh, before I forget, did you read the manual in the box? You don’t just have to use the RuleSteady on the large rulers, I use mine for cross-cutting too, all the way down to the 4 1/2”squares. As long as 2 of the ‘feet’ are on the square / ruler / shape, it won’t slide. Try it! Put a few extra strips underneath it and cut oh, say, 6 or 8 layers. I do. Not all the time, but it’s not hard. If you’re cutting out a colourwash quilt, it’ll save heaps of time. I got mine cut in one session, which I know for a fact I couldn’t have done without hurting my hands or shoulders prior to having the RuleSteady.

Sorry – I’m waffling again! I really appreciate you taking the time to contact me. As you can see, I agree, the RuleSteady is a great tool and a worthwhile investment. Here is the link to our website :  www.keepquilting.com.au  feel free to use any images you find there. I’m also on Pinterest and Facebook. After several years of only selling the RuleSteady, I got tired of people constantly asking me what else I sell – you will see I sell a number of items on the website, but the RuleSteady is definitely what we try to promote the most. Especially to new quilters, or even for teachers to introduce their children/students to safety when rotary cutting. Oh the possibilities are endless.....


Marita Atkins"

 So it is up to you, for me it is making such a difference. I cannot believe I have had it so long and not used it before.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Moving on with the Di Ford Mystery Quilt and my new favourite tool

I haven't changed it as much as I thought I would. Mainly because I have been a bit lazy and it was easier to go with what has been given. So this round is finished except for appliquéing the hexagons in the corners of round 2.

I have no idea where this came from. I thought I might have bought it at one of the Maltings sales but it has an Australian sticker on the end so it might have come from one of my friends who lived out there. I haven't used it before this last week or two. Heaven knows why, it is wonderful. The side with the green sticker is slightly lower than the other side. And the ruler doesn't move, not even a tiny bit. I was using a 36" ruler here, the sort that is normally guaranteed to slip, but it doesn't and I didn't even have to reposition it.

I just wish I had started using it years ago....