Wednesday 31 December 2008

Goodbye 2008

I think this year has had more than its fair share of tragedy. Two of our fellow bloggers suffered the nightmare none of us could come out the other end unchanged forever.

On a lighter but still not wonderful note, 2008 has been a year of minor injuries for me which has been reflected in the amount of quilting achieved.

On the plus side I have lost a considerable amount of weight without trying, just by making the simple change of forcing myself to eat two slices of toast every morning. I do mean forcing, I find it very hard to swallow first thing. The miracle is it's working. I haven't cut down in any way I've noticed or even tried, so it's a winning formula. My clothes were falling off quite literally, so I bought a new pair of jeans two sizes down yesterday and they happily are falling down as well, yeah! Still some way to go but it's in the right direction.

I try not to write anything political but let just say world events over the last few days have had me yelling at the radio and television.

On the negative more couples amongst my friends have split up this year than I've even known before.

So 2008 goodbye, I won't be missing you very much.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

I was going to leave wishing you all Merry Christmas until tomorrow morning but then I realised all the bloggers in Australia and New Zealand would already be in bed, so...
MERRY CHRISTMAS! This is the wonderful cake Steph made for us (already cut into) and the table laid ready for tomorrow (well nearly).
I'm excited. My niece has come over to England with her three children and husband. It seems ages since we had excited little children at Christmas, it brings out the child in me, I've even been tracking Santa's progress.

Thursday 18 December 2008


I've been in the sewing room, not stitching but cutting fabric out at least. Remember the jigsaw quilt I designed a few weeks ago? Well these will be the squares but I can't go any further with this until my DH fixes the printer as I need to have a picture of the design so I can follow the placement of the puzzles bites (I don't know what else to call them). But there is a deadline, the baby is due in February.
I know you're all waiting to see the next border on the feathered star quilt, so am I?!?

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Big Fat Momma Angel

Made a few years ago (from a pattern? perhaps the first one or two then I went off on my own) She was in a glass clip frame but the glass has broken so maybe she'll be a Christmas pot holder now, ahh. She was just fused and the 'stitching' done with Pigma pen, though I do see I hand quilted just round the outside of the motif.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Christmas is coming

I've toned things down a bit this year but still our tree is fab.
Sinclair ignores the whole process if there is a fire to lie in front.

Things go much more quickly when Fliss is around to help. Half way there.The little lights have disappeared under the flash. But we're pleased with the effect.

Monday 8 December 2008

Design excercises and chocolate

Before I throw these out, I thought I'd share.
These wraps were quite useful in terms of playing with colour proportions. Just take a photo, painting or whatever and wrap threads around a card using the same proportions of the colours. It doesn't matter what the subject is very much, just something where the colours appeal.
And these might be good for some people though not for me. I knew what the effect would be before cutting out the shapes. I know other women who can visualise predictively but if you can't this is an exercise in positive/negative shapes.

And paper cutting, same thing applies.


I think the one on the right was torn rather than cut, less predictable but more of the same really.

And then later to reward myself for more decluttering I had a go at making chocolates. I poured some melted chocolate round these tiny cake cases. Froze them to chill them quickly, added some jersey cream with champagne and then poured more chocolate over the top to seal them. It was worth a try but the cream and chocolate was just too rich.
Anyone have any ideas as to what to do with the rest of the pound of melted chocolate?

Thursday 4 December 2008

Out of the chaos...

there shall come order. Or so it is hoped.
These are my old Ikea Billy bookcases. They have served me well for 16 years. At one time they lived in the sitting room and were mahogany coloured, they got painted and moved up to the landing until now when some of the shelves are sagging in the middle, and the quantity of books is pulling them apart from the sides. These are 90% quilt books and magazines.
And here are their lovely replacements. Also Ikea, their shelves are 5cm deeper so all the oversize books can fit inside rather than gathering dust on the top where because they are so high, they never got a glance.
I love these doors to keep everything dust free. I shall velcro some blue toile de jouy behind the glass to hide a multitude of sins.
And Ikea being the king of storage solutions, do these fold up fabric boxes which fit perfectly (I know there are gaps but these enable you to pull them out easily).

On our way home from the cottage, we popped in to the Bristol Ikea. What a different experience from their flag ship shop in Wembley. Friendly helpful staff and no queueing! I found these lovely fabrics. Too heavy for quilting but lovely for some cushions. These reds look quite 'brick' in the photos but they are a deep cherry. And the blue in the stripe fabric marries the blue toile de jouy perfectly.
We also bought two more Billy bookcases in white to go on the landing. I'm going to 'steal' the doors from the ones in DH's office (they don't close properly on his anyway as lever arch files are about 1/2" too deep)
My new mantra, 'less stuff, and what I have MUST have a place!'

Sunday 30 November 2008

Up to the cottage

We went up yesterday for a fleeting visit to our cottage (our tenant, sadly for them and us lost his rent allowance from the army). This wonderful abbey ruin is just down the road. Tintern Abbey was built in the 12 century. See more photos and a bit of it's history here

Still no stitching but I am getting very very organised with the help of Steph.......
It's become a revelation how much easier life is once there is a place for everything.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Did I get sewing done?

No, I still have no firm idea as to what to do with that final border. So I've started a sewing room clear out.
I have two sisters both much older than me. One lives on a Greek island, the other in London. The London sister is going over to the Greek sister next week and Greek sister needs a sewing machine.
I'll send over either this Elna Stella or
this Elna Lotus. I'm just seeing which works the best for her.

And these are the ones I'm saying goodbye to forever. The black box at the back has an Elna Grasshopper. (I'll post a photo later) And the two which look like old fashioned school bags are Favta Darlings.

Take a good look at these babies as you'll probably never see one again, let alone two of them. They are very small German made machines. That isn't a knee lift, it's the drive you use instead of a foot control.

Monday 24 November 2008

The north wind doth blow....

and we shall have snow, well sleet anyway.
And it's time for warming foods. In the steel pot are chicken bones and vegetables simmering away. This stock will be used for a risotto tonight.
The other two are simmering in the oven. The blue pot has Hungarian lamb. I was very pleased to see bones for sale in the supermarket this morning as they add so much to the flavour (I'll remove them before serving) The white pot is a beef stew. This will have dumplings with it on Wednesday night. Both of these will benefit from being cooked today and served a day or two later. I don't know why this adds to the flavour but it does.

And this afternoon I am doing the ironing. This will leave me Tues, Wed, and Friday with a clear run in the sewing room. Yeah!!!!

And whilst I'm ironing I shall be further pondering the quilting for this current quilt and it's next border. The quilting is worrying me as the fabric is so busy and I do like my quilting to show.

Friday 21 November 2008

Decapitation, a lost eye and some good news.

I went through a bear making phase many years ago and this chap is the only one I had left. He was getting grubby so I put him through the washing machine. I've done it before, but perhaps not on the 1400 spin speed. I've given all the joints away so perhaps I can do some sort of fix but I'll have to remember he's not safe for children any more.
And then I found Paddington with his eye out.... I expect there's some way of fixing his sight.

The good news is I have the last side of this border in place finally. I am very pleased with how it's looking. I think the next border shall have swags and I'll place another narrow strip of the navy dot between them.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

So silly

Shopping is a dangerous sport. All I had to do today, was a quick whizz round the supermarket, visit a friend in hospital, and stitch the last border on the quilt. Somehow I've managed to trap a nerve in my shoulder so I can't sew nor drive.
I saw others are putting these jigsaws on their blogs so here's one of mine. It's a quilt I made years ago for a charity raffle.
Click to Mix and Solve

Friday 14 November 2008

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Laugh, I nearly wet myself....

The agent came round yesterday and kept repeating what a terribly house proud person I must be....... ROTFLOL It's amazing what can be accomplished in three days when you try very hard.
In for a penny, in for a pound, whilst the house was so tidy we had two others round. They each came up with a similar value which was around what we thought. So there will be much playing with spread sheets over the next few days.
And we're off to Ikea on Thursday so the books which hurriedly went into the loft can be retrieved.

Saturday 8 November 2008

No more stitching yet

Somehow beyond my understanding of my own life, I have a house valuation being carried out Monday. The stuff I haven't yet found a home for belongs in the bookcases which arrive on Thursday (you see the problem here?) Hey ho.

Thank you all for your comments on my border treatment, I love it too. I'm surprised how many of you think it is the final border. There will be at least one more, possibly two.......

Fliss is home for the weekend and if any of you think I'm getting help, she's not well and is sound asleep in her own bed.

Thursday 6 November 2008

2 and bit stitched down and another of life's little pleasures

Are you like me, old enough to remember when cheese was good for you? Well these from the Truckle Cheese Company are good for your soul.The blue one is so creamy it can only have been made in heaven and the cheddar is creamy but bites you back. OH! Can you hear the pleasure?

So two and a bit borders stitched, one and a large bit to go. I really must do something about the wool batting coming out from hiding under the bed.........

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Never Never Never Give Up

I got this lovely stone box a few weeks ago and thought it applicable. I never realised how applicable until this border.

I had problems when I reached the 2nd corner before we went away. I had thought the colours had reversed (which they had) also the direction of the longer and shorter corner pieces (which hadn't). I also hadn't taken into account the fact I was doing a mirror image of the original drawing (big duh! and waste of time) and then I took the 45 degree seam in the striped fabric and got the stripes going horizontally instead of vertically.
But I kept going and now, quite literally I've turned a corner, LOLS.

I've just found the "Never never never give up" is a World War 2 quote from Winston Churchill. It still applies to me in my little way.

Monday 3 November 2008

container/box thing

Ferret came up with a better method here but I'm still going to Ikea.
Why, because I'm going anyway and it still uses a lot of fabric.

Sunday 2 November 2008

It functions but it doesn't look pretty

Part of the reason I need to declutter is not everything has a place it can be put away. One of the results is we always have tons of stuff out on the counter in our bathroom. Stef has said (she has become our Guru) we need baskets for our things which we put away after using. So as DH has less stuff than mine I made him a container for his stuff.
I'm sure there's a book out there but I just wanted to get started.
So I cut out five 6" squares of iron on (both sides) buckram. I ironed this fabric to both sides. and stitched with two passes of zigzag four of the squares to the base.

I then zigzagged down one side with the base folded outward. This was sort of OK for the first side but it was awkward.
The next three sides I stitched with the base folded inwards. It was a little better but still awkward.

Then zoomed round the top with two rows of stitching to finish.

It works but it doesn't look wonderful and it took ages. So sometime during the week we are off to Ikea to buy some of their ready made containers. (My life is too short to do this sort of thing.)
Did I tell you we had snow last week? Not a lot but it hung round for over 24 hours and it's the first time it has snowed in the south of England in October for 75 years.

Saturday 1 November 2008

Back again-sort of

Did I tell you I got attacked by the shower in the overnight hotel from the flight delay? The shower head jumped out of it's socket and slammed into my wrist. It immediately came up blue and swollen. I applied pressure and then ice for a couple of hours. It's fine now except for a little pain on twisting the wrist.
Then this week I've been bent double with stomach ache. Steph had been booked for Wednesday last week but again because of the flight she re booked for this week on Thursday. I had planned to set her loose on the dining room when DH announced the night before that he wanted the table for paperwork. (He has a desk but that is otherwise in use at the moment). Change of plan meant Steph started on our bathroom. So this means I have nothing to do but the doorbell rings and I had just not checked my calender. A lady I had booked months ago came for some quilting lesson (I don't charge but I did feel guilty). I had to fit her into my sewing room but it took a good 20 minutes to make some space.
Needless to say the house was like a bomb had gone off. Stuff from the emptied airing cupboard, the emptied bathroom, normal maintenance had gone by the wayside due to being bent double with pain....... I want to climb into a hole.
On the up side, a new baby is on it's way and will need a quilt. I saw something like this in a magazine but didn't like it too much as the jigsaw effect was too even. So I've had a little play with QuiltPro and come up with this idea. On one of the email groups I belong to I asked for some baby sayings which I shall use in the quilting.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Why I haven't been blogging

Apologies for those of you who have clicked in and not found anything new.
I had a flu jab just after we got home and it knocked me out somewhat. I've also become a de cluttering diva. I'm on a roll. I've realised just how much 'stuff' interferes with your life and your creativity. The real extent of the problem showed it's ugly head when I emptied one of the bathroom cupboards and found several years supply of shampoo and conditioner. I have two large carrier bags full to give away and another very large bag which I shall use up before I buy any more (if ever). (Our bathroom cupboards are kitchen sized units).
Although I've cleared my desk totally I cannot find the adapter for the micro SD card from my phone, so I am unable to load any of the photos of the Sinai. I am drowning under 'stuff'. It's not as bad as one of those poor souls you see on TV but it is far more than is healthy.
So if I disappear for a while you know I am getting rid of all the extraneous things which are in the way of my life functioning properly.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

just a quick note

to say we're home safe and sound. I'll hopefully blog later.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to England

Taba airport is small, very small. One building in the middle of the dessert with nothing but a runway for miles and miles around. It can handle one plane at a time has there isn't room for more people.
We had a long check in time and the flight was late leaving has there is a party of disabled diving travelers and it takes quite a while to get these passengers settled. But we left an hour late, the plane taxied to the runway, then accelerated for take off. Then it stopped. Some time later the pilot informed us that as he started the take off a warning light came on and he was talking to the airline as to what would happen next.
Eventually the pilot told us we would be going nowhere last night. He was negotiating with the immigration to let us back into Egypt (when you are on the plane or even just airside you are in no man's land). And there would be buses waiting to take us back to Taba Heights. We had to get our passports re-stamped whilst on the plane and eventually we got back to the terminal. Then there was another wait. Luckily our travel company (Longwood)had secured buses (not so for the customers of other companies). I think this was no mean feat at this time of night and was very impressed. We have also been told there was a 757 engineer a 3 hour taxi ride down the coast and he has been working on the plane over night.
Gatwick arrivals is showing our flight arriving at 3.35pm but if that were the case we would be at the airport already. Instead we are at the Intercontinental again with a beachside room overlooking Aqaba......
We might be home tonight...........

Sunday 19 October 2008

I'm always losing things

but this is silly.
I've lost a day. I just found out it's Sunday and we're flying home tomorrow. I would have sworn it was Saturday today. I've lost days before, but a day of my holiday? Now that's just very sad.

Thursday 16 October 2008

It's a hard life but someone has to do it......

I wish I could write something interesting for quilters (NO I don't (grin)) but there is nothing at all quilty here. Though I have seen a wonderful Egyptian rug in a tree of life design (think palampore).
We've just sat at the beach bar as the sun went down behind us and it turned the mountains over the sea of Aquba red. How strange to watch the sun hitting Israel, Jordan and Saudi all at the same time. Up the coast a little way, still in Egypt, we can see the Hilton which was bombed only a few years ago.
This tiny little bit of heaven seems so far away from worldly troubles. The Egyptian staff are the nicest of any hotel staff anywhere.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

On vacation in the Sinai

Against all our green credentials we're in the sun. Flying over the Sinai was the most incredible sight. Totally barren and mountainous, all the topography in clear view. There were tops of mountains which looked very much like ancient barrows we find in England sculpted by man. How one would ever find these places whilst not in the air, I wouldn't think possible.
I tried to blog yesterday but all the logins were in Arabic and my typing went from right to left. Very confusing.
Whilst we are on the edge of the dessert, the hotel has beautiful gardens. In fact the whole 40+ acres could have been made by Disney. Our view has a small area of garden just in front of the sea and over the sea (Acuba) we can see Jordan and it's mountains. At night Jordan is lit up like fairy land.
Off to breakfast and then onto the beach. It's a hard life but someone has to do it......... We plan to snorkel over the nature reserve. Apparently it's wonderful and we should see turtles amongst the coral.
I have bought paper and pencils to do some design work but somehow I don't think it's going to happen.
I'll post photos when I return.

Thursday 9 October 2008

Peace, quilts and inspiration

"I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion - I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more - I could be martyred for my religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that. "

I see a shadow of an idea, it will be a quilt based on this quotation. How long it will take to form into a tangible idea, who knows but I shall keep a sketch book nearby.....

Wednesday 8 October 2008

I haven't dropped off the edge of the world.

But I haven't done anything qulty since my last post.
The nearest thing to anything quilt related was my award arrived yesterday. The quilt came back from Scotland last week with the wholecloth ribbon and the coaster (is that what it is? It's a little bigger than a wine bottle coaster) arrived yesterday.
Some time has been spent arranging the sitting room to accommodate the new TV monster. I am the woman who refused to have anything larger than a 28", lost the battle and we had a 32" last time. This time I was up for a large one, our sitting room is large and our eyes are not getting any better. What was I thinking? This big black 'thing' dominates the room.
However I am pleased with it's stand. Another of my TK Max finds. Slightly damaged so we got a further 50% which is cool as you can't see the damage .

My insomnia last night coincided with the battle of the two US candidates. I started listening at the point when they were 'debating' (and I use the word debating cautiously) US foreign policy. It seems each in their own way is threatening more global conflict. History has shown that after huge economic problems at home, major world wars are more likely. One only has to look at the the dreadful state of the German economy which allowed Hitler to rise prior to the last world war. Xenophobia seems the name of the game now as well.

As for the economy, in the South of England reports are saying it hasn't hit us too hard as yet. But I see office blocks unlet and houses unsold. The car parks in the cheaper supermarkets are full to overflowing and in the more expensive ones, the aisles are traffic free.
As for us, the TV and the holiday will be the last big purchases for some time. And we have our fingers crossed.........

Saturday 4 October 2008

It's cold

it's official . I know this because we've lit our first fire of the winter.We're nice and warm now.

Thursday 2 October 2008

Blondes have more fun

My hair needed colouring when we had the disaster with the cottage last autumn and I just didn't find the time. Then there was the mad dash to get quilts made and I started to feel embarrassed about going. And I kept putting it off and off and off. This was getting silly. I always wear my hair up so it wasn't as though the lack of a cut was showing, just the colour. Today I bit the bullet and had a full head of three different colours with blonde the most prominent. I feel so very much happier. (and so silly for not going sooner.....)

I have been doing a little of the appliqué preparations. And just now pinned this first side.
I was prepared that the other corner might need the reverse colour way, but it never occurred to me, the shapes would need to be mirror imaged. Duh! I am pleased however with the little seam in the striped fabric on the corner.

And a little correction for that method of cutting the appliqué shapes by free motioning them. I think I said it was six layers thick. It was four. I now know 4 is a good number. The ones on the right have been done with five and even with using a huge needle the result wasn't nearly as good. I don't know why, that's just how it is.

Another thing I found is it's not a good idea to have the pieces of freezer paper as large as I did on the right hand set. It's thick paper and it doesn't fold as easily under the harp of the machine as fabric (of course, but why didn't I consider this before I did the one on the right).

Tuesday 30 September 2008


I spent simply ages working out the pattern repeats for this border. I had to fit in 11 X 6" down each side and then start the corner treatment 3/4" away from the corner. After much playing with compasses I go it right. I cut the cardboard edge stencil so I could mark the placements. Did it fit when I got to the next corner? No. Much blue air round Toad Hall today. Never mind 'I have a plan' which I shall reveal if it works. If it doesn't, just look skyward towards Toad Hall and see the blue cloud.
I traced the shape six times onto freezer paper, layered it 6 sheets deep then freemotioned without thread along the lines. I have done this before but this time, I put my foot to the floor and moved the paper slowly. This was brilliant, it 'cut' the shapes for me.

Then using a glue stick, I glued each side of each shape, clipping into the concave curves. I didn't fold the ends over as they shall be covered by the next piece.

Just laying these few out on the table, I'm pleased to see they look as good as I expected.