Saturday, 29 September 2007

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping

Or we shouldn't be allowed out without a 'minder'.
It started innocently enough, in the local paper a guy was all but giving away his A0 size drawing board. Some of you know I already got a A00 sized one off Freecycle
and it is huge, really far to big especially as it lives in our bedroom. So I can't resist this smaller one, it's still big enough about 50" X 36" but more manageable. First I have to clear off the stuff which has accumulated on top old one.
Then I took the non recycling rubbish from DD's bedroom to the local refuse centre. They have a shed where they sell things which are really too good to throw into the tip. I got this for £7 ($14) and it will look super when it's painted up and has some plates on it.

Then I hit TK Max (known as TJ Max in the States) and I found the handbag to end all handbags. (sorry about the photos being in the wrong order). It has fabulous lining and big enough for my needs but not so big it will get filled up with rubbish. For those of you not in a country to have TK Max, they sell designer stuff at anything from a quarter to a tenth of the original price (and sometimes even less!)

Under the flap at the front is another pocket plus these little loops for pens.

I wish you could feel it. It is super. I 'googled' the brand when I got home and found out how truly expensive they normally are. So much so there is even one place in New York which hires them out! It's that sort of leather that just gets better and better as it ages.

And then we found this chest of drawers like something out of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Sort of red Chinese lacquer meets Gustavian.

Aren't these butterflies lovely?

And then this end table. Chinoiserie again and very me.

I love TK Max!
Did I mention we also bought 2 sofas, one large arm chair, and a huge footstool? (Unfortunately not TK Max this time)

Really we shouldn't be allowed out when we're feeling so lost without DD.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Wholecloth and Ostrich quilt

The dreadful wholecloth. As I've said before, I don't know why I bothered except it was good practice doing grid work. This is a preprinted Bernatex wholecloth and is very badly conceived. Why? Many reasons but a few are, there is not enough difference in scale between the grid and the designs, the centre portion is not framed or isolated in any why to give it prominence, ditto for the middle ring of ribbons ands flowers and then there is proportionately too little quilting in the outer border. This quilt despite it's creases looks far better in the carefully taken photo than it does in reality. (creases come from DH sitting on it (grin).) And that's without the problems of the gird work crossing single lines of flower stems.
You might guess by now that I'm not impressed....
This is DD's 2006 Ostrich quilt hanging where it was created for. The fabrics are almost all from Ikea in their Rosali range. It is rumored that these were designed by Cath Kidston or they might have been a rip off copy. Ikea didn't sell them for very long, they were dirt cheap and absolutely gorgeous and now sell for about 5 times their original price on Ebay. Unfortunately DH was with me the day I bought them so I was far more restrained than I should have been and I had to supplement it with some at the outrageous Ebay prices.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Cool new home page set up

I've been using this igoogle as my home page for a few weeks now and love it.
I've chosen a page header with the position of the sun. It moves across the page according to the time of day. Then you can add as many little bits and pieces as you like.
I've got my blog reader with my favourite blogs letting me know when each one is updated. A little notebook for things to be done etc, a timer for when I'm here and have something going on in the kitchen. A google calender which emails me (If I so choose ) when events occur and DH has access to it for when he wants to book something which involves both of us. A simple calculator, I can never put my hands on a real one when I need it (though this might change now DD is away).
I did have a couple of games on there as well but found they were too tempting and eat into my time. I also have my secondary google mail account so I can see when new email come in. (Before this I would forget to check this account).
And there are loads and loads of gadgets and toys you can add. I had funny cat photos for a while (a different photo each time you upload the page) and horoscopes ( I don't believe in these so I can't quite fathom why I put it up).
Cool isn't it?

Monday, 24 September 2007

Something to look at and enjoy

Because I've been cleaning out DD's bedroom and bathroom (and it's not finished yet), I haven't anything quilty to post but this webshots album has some lovely traditional quilts. I particularly like one or two in the 'quilt' album.
I'm going to treat myself to a cup of tea and a long browse through her photos. I don't know who she is but some are gorgeous.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

The house is very quiet

Somehow each time we have been down to Exeter (where DD has gone to University) the sun has shone. We drove past Stonehenge and the stones seem alive in the golden early autumn light. We would have seen them in fabulous red light at sunset on the way home had there not been a traffic jam just before we got there and so took a 15-20 mile detour round through Devizes. But even this was good, I forget how very beautiful England is and only really get reminded when we go off the beaten track.
DD's halls have two kinds of rooms, both small with a double bed and an en suite shower room enclosed in the space (think of a typical hotel room but half the size). One kind has a large picture window and the other a small modern version of a Romeo and Juliet style balcony. To achieve the balcony they have taken a bite out of the room. She has the latter and is very pleased with it.
She would have been partying last night and having a ball. We have woken to a very quiet house. This is not unusual for a Sunday morning but it seems extra quiet knowing every morning shall be like this.
DH thinks it must be easier if you have more than one child. As she was a 'test tube' (IVF) baby this wasn't really an option.
Very sorry not to have taken my camera, bad blogger, consider my wrists slapped (grin).

Friday, 21 September 2007

Opera and shopping

As suspected no quilting this week except for stitching the binding down on the Bernatex preprinted whole cloth. I cannot think of any good reason for having done this quilt at all. It was a pig to quilt with loads of interrupted grid work. And the only use I can think for it is to go on top on the memory foam mattress which blessedly saves me from backache but miserably makes me incredibly hot at night. I'm thinking a cotton quilt between me and the mattress might help? OK it was designed to be hand quilted and doing it on a machine wasn't in the designer's mind but as I worked on it I realised that it would have been a pig to quilt by hand as well.

DD wanted some fab new clothes for her new life so we trecked into London's Covent Garden area yesterday. I love shopping here, loads of street entertainers and interesting shops. Where else can you go and have brilliant coffee and listen to opera at the same time? The singers from the opera house and wannabes sing inside what used to be the old Fruit and Vegetable market. I'm not an opera fan (I don't dislike it but have almost none on my Ipod) but I find these singers almost always bring tears to my eyes.
Brilliantly the day started well with DD finding two pairs of 'perfect' jeans in the first shop. Nine hours after leaving we got home with our bags full of shopping and her best friend turned up to say goodbye. Needless to say this left me in tears again. I shall miss all these wonderful young people so very much. They will come back I know, but they will come back as different people.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Blogging may or may not be interupted this week

We are preparing to be empty nesters. Our DD is going to University on Saturday. Suddenly there seems to be loads to do, not least filling umpteen forms which everyone in this household hates. And suddenly the government has decided she doesn't exist!!!!! It will get sorted but really we should be packing.
On a quilty note, my copy of The Quilter arrived today and inside on their article about the Festival of Quilts was one of mine. Nice. And something to put into my folder on my quilts and quilting.
So if you don't hear from me in the next few days it's because we're either fighting the bureaucracy or trying to fit her life's possessions into the car.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Unaccustomed as I am

to public speaking, I've been asked to show my quilts and give a talk to a quilt group.
I talked with the person who approached me and the numbers were not expected to be large and all I have to do is show my quilts and talk about them. I agreed.
I then spoke to another member who laughed when I told her the number to expect, she thought it would be double (gulp).
I can do this
I can do this
I can do this
And I have until next year to work up to it.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Ruler storage and cutting table come light box

Just thought I'd share this nifty little ruler storage idea I had. It's a plate drainer I picked up from T K Max (T J Max in the USA) but I'm sure if you keep your eyes open you could find a similar one. It had drainer written large across the front but a quick go with a sharpie pencil soon got rid of that.
And this is my cutting table. It's all from Ikea. Two of their wooden trestles (a friend tried the metal ones but they are a little wobbly for our purposes) with one of their strengthened glass table tops. I have two cutting mats on it, One is 23" X 35" and I have that sideways on at one end, it overlaps a little as the table top is 31½" wide. And then length ways on I have a 24" X 36" .

The height is adjustable but not something you can do without a helper as the glass is very heavy. I have mine set at the highest.
Then when I want a light box I remove the cutting mat and place a spot light with a low energy bulb underneath. Low energy bulbs are good because they don't generate much heat so there is less risk of fire. I tend to use the 23watt ones which give off the equivalent of 150watt of light. I generally just prop it on one of the sewing machines stored underneath but you could use a clip on one on a trestle.
I use masking tape to stop the design I'm tracing from moving about and with a small quilt I would use masking tape to hold the fabric in place. For a large quilt I use these clips which are made to hold tablecloths down outside in summer (are there really people on the same planet as me who use tablecloths in the garden?).
Pegs work as well as the glass isn't too thick.

Should Ikea give me commission? (grin)

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Victoria had quilt type feathers

You'll have to click on this to see them, and I've had it for years without noticing the feathers round her neck. It's a commemorative handkerchief celebrating 60years of her reign. It was amongst my MIL's thing when we cleared her house. I don't know if it came from her family or my FIL's.

Cool blog photo tool

Found this on M Q Resource, scroll down on the right and find the 'image resizer', download it, then all you have to do is right click and it will give you these four size options. Much easier than opening your photo editing suite just to resize.
Click on each photo to see how each size comes up.
This size is for hand held computers.

This is the large

This is medium

This is the small

And this last one is the original size

Monday, 10 September 2007

It got worse before it got better

I cleared everything off the racking except the plains. And this was the disaster area formally known as my workroom.

About half way through the process.

And this is afterwards. I 'edited' some fabrics and they are on the landing waiting to go to the group who make quilts for the refuge. I did cut 4 X 2 1/2" strips from each of them for use in future scrap quilts first.

Because I've been playing with the Patsy Thompson feathers and doing background for the last few weeks, it's good to get my hand in again. It's extremely boring work, but practise is good, isn't it?

I bought this premarked quilt at the Maltings sale. I bought it as much to see what one of these was like as to actually quilt it. But having staqrted it and promising it it to someone, every so often I have a go at doing a little more on it. Grids are the hardest thing to do freehand, so it's good practise on that and on staying on marked lines.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Stuck in the downstairs of the house

We went to a party last night for a friend of DD's whose 18th was in the middle of the exam times so his parents put off the party until now. The party was fun and I love that all DD's friends greet me with a big hug. They are such lovely kids and I don't think they are aware how lucky they are to have each other.
We didn't get to bed until about 3am so DD and DH have gone up for a sleep to catch up now. Being an insomniac means this amount of sleep has become quite normal for me. But it does mean I can't get on with much as I don't want to wake them.

You might have noticed I've joined a webring for machine quilters. There is some serious talent in this group, so grab a cup of coffee and browse round their blogs. Most of them are longarmers. I had to create an avatar for their forum. This is when I discovered that being the photographer in the family means there are few photos of me hanging about. I did find this one of artmixter, Marion Barnett and I quite a few years ago selling raffle tickets for Children's Aid Direct at the National Quilt Show. That's me on the left and Marion on the right. The quilt behind me is my very first prize winning quilt which was the first prize in the raffle. I bought it off the winner so I'm lucky to still have it.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

magenta and sage green

Nothing quilty done today, just a heavy day's shopping with DD for stuff for her to take to University. The shopping centre was full of parents of 18 year olds doing the same thing.
Driving home I saw a Nepalese woman with a magenta sari and the trousers and top underneath were sage green. What a fabulous combination and one I shall have to use at some point. It makes my mouth water just to think about it.
Sally Ward took this photo today at Harrogate with her phone of Peace#1 with people milling around it. I love seeing people around my quilts like this.
The colour on this photo is a bit pale and on yesterday's a bit bright , it's half way between the two.

Sinclair loved it when it was a work in progress (grin). What is it with cats and quilts, particularly white ones?

Friday, 7 September 2007

Whoo hoo!

I got a phone call yesterday afternoon to tell me Peace#1 had won the Bed Quilt award at the Great Northern Quilt Show in Harrogate.
They asked if I could go up to receive my trophy but today is dedicated to DD to get all the things she needs to go to uni in a couple of weeks.
Lovely, another ribbon for my wall. They said they could post me the trophy but I asked them to send a jpg instead as when I have something in the house which I have to hand back, I live in fear the cat will knock it onto the floor and I'd have to replace it. (and I'm not good at polishing)
The Festival of Quilts do not give ribbons (I think they think it below them). I personally love getting them. I work away in my workroom having total crises of confidence thinking I'm producing rubbish and all I have to do is glimpse my ribbons and then I know I can produce something worthwhile. I never dreamed I would get even one, so my little collection is precious.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

New border fabric and chaos

New border fabric decided. I don't know why I'm going through so much agony for a quilt which will just live on the sofa (grin).
And why I couldn't use the dark red. All these fabrics are richer than they look in the photo.
And this is what happens when you have overloaded racking and you try and get fabrics out from the bottom of the piles.
If I had room I'd get another set of racking.....

And my poor cutting table which emerged after the tidy up has disappeared again. At least because these are big bits it should be easier to sort out (I hope).

Guess what I'm doing today?.....

Wednesday, 5 September 2007


I never make other people's designs except when I do (grin). This was a kit from Hancocks Paducah and it came with a sludgy green border fabric which was quite dire. I stitched a better green to it but that looked dreadful as well. Today I've decided to go with the red but I'm not sure which one to go for yet.
It will be my treat to myself to stitch it on and pin it up today when and if I find homes for the remaining 10% (it is going down) of things which must have a home in my workroom. Each remaining 1% takes twice the time of the previous 1%.
And for something completely different, wasps. My window cleaners nearly fell of one of the half hipped rooves (yes blogger that is the plural of roof!) as wasps have made a nest under one of the tiles. I rang the local council yesterday afternoon, and now have an appointment for tomorrow morning to get it removed. I thought this was quite efficient. What is the point of wasps? They sting even when not threatened, they are the evil ones of the insect world.
So what I do today shall be done indoors with the windows closed. It isn't very warm so this isn't a problem thankfully.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Not at all quilty

A friend of mine after a long time waiting for a donor kidney finally got one a few weeks ago. Her donor was in his or her 70's.
Normally this is one of the most successful of the organ transfers.
My friend is not only having extreme problems with the anti rejection drugs but her new kidney is failing. If it does she will be in a worse state than before with no kidney function at all.
None of us want to be donors (after all this normally means we have met with an untimely end)but most of us want our organs to be used after our death. It is a terrible time for families to be asked and the process is so very much easier if we have registered our wishes here or if this link doesn't work copy and paste this
It's as easy as that.

If you live elsewhere in the world, Google to find the registration process in your own country. Do it now if you haven't already and let all your family know.

It's not just kidneys, it's all sorts of things which can improve and save the lives of others.
And spread the word,

Quilt appraised

For the first time I've had one of my quilts appraised professionally. There are no qualified appraisers to my knowledge here in England so sending Nostalgia to the World Quilt Show gave me that opportunity.
I an delighted! A professional has labeled the work as excellent heirloom quality in both construction and technique.
Now all I have to do is persuade my insurance company that my quilts are worth more than bedspreads, I'm hoping I can get them to apply valuations on a per square foot basis for my other show quality quilts as it isn't feasible to send all of them to the US for appraisal.
Now the aim is to make one of 'masterpiece' standard (I assume that's the top level). It doesn't matter if I never get there, it's the journey which matters.
(She also called me an International Award Winner, now that sound cool!LOLS)

Monday, 3 September 2007

squirrels and premiere

Just for something lovely to look at today, one of my favourite sculptures from the local sculpture park.
Voldemort and DD have gone to a premiere tonight so I had all day to complete two tasks. Task one was going to be an easy one. I was going to use the short movie feature on my camera and take photos of the vermin aka squirrels in my garden Marion will testify that whenever I'm on the phone to her I end up chasing them away. Well today for the very first time, I haven't seen even just one. So I figure if I leave the camera on the window sill they will go away and no longer be a problem....
Task two was to blitz my workroom. This is 75% completed and now I go up to try and squeeze the remaining 25% into a 0% space (grin). I might be some time.......
If I don't blog tomorrow send out a search party.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Around and about where I live and early autumn

For those of you in hotter climes, you will not understand how much I love Magnolia Grandifloras. To grow them in the south of England requires a high and protected south facing wall and then a lot of hope. This was in a south corner and it wasn't trained against the wall, it was a full sized tree.

This is a typical back road through the English country side. Only a littlw wider than the width of one car. When you meet another car coming in the opposite direction you one of you has to back up until there is a wider spot so the two cars can pass. Taken from the moving car. I prefer driving on these roads at night so the headlights give you warning of cars coming towards you.

Just one of many black and white thatched cottages. The door is probably 12" lower than a normal door just to give you an idea of scale.
One with the thatch replaced with tiles many many years ago.

A lovely bourbon style rose, I wish I could give you the perfume.

And then signs that autumn is exceptionally early this year.

Out buildings at The Vyne, a minor stately home about 20 minutes from home.

I've been meaning to catch a good photo of a swan for ages to use in the quilt. I'm surprised it is so low in the water.

This is the summer house of The Vyne, I told DH I would quite like a replica at the bottom of the garden. This fell on deaf ears.

A barn has been converted into the coffee bar, how many barns have such lovely doorways?

The fish in the lake are huge. One carp must have weighed in at about 10lb (4.5kg), not the best photo but the duck gives you some idea of scale.

This is the frontage of The Vyne.
One of a pair of eagles outside the other formal side to the house. I don't like the symbolism of this sort of eagle.