Friday 25 December 2009

On Earth

and Good will to all men

Fliss couldn't have been more pleased than she was with this giant bottle of Peri Peri sauce.
And I know a lot of the world never sees a brussel sprout (quite rightly). But these will be wonderful after a little cooking and then loads of butter, chopped chestnuts and chopped crispy bacon. (and then we will not see them again until next Christmas)

Not quite a white Christmas, the snow from last week is finally melting. If you ever hear me wishing for a white Christmas again, remind me of what it's like when you can't get to the shops to buy food.

Saturday 19 December 2009

I've started on the final border

and think it will take at least another 8 days of quilting to finish it.
Meanwhile we've had another of our successful trips to TK Max. This mirror still needs fitting to the wall but as it's huge (49" wide by 74"high) it will take a little time whilst we (or Steph) decide how to approach it.

As you might have heard after the flooding last month, this month the country has ground to a halt due to snow. I love how this tree fern looks covered in snow, it has a vaguely tropical look (even though they grow in New Zealand) and to see the snow on the fronds is odd to say the least. It's a magnificent plant, each of those fronds are about 7 or eight foot long.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Not a lot to see but that background is DONE!

Try as I might, I can't get the mashed potato quilting to show up very well. 'Tis done, and now I get to do the final border, though I should remind myself each border takes far longer than the previous one.

Georgous and Rosie investigating the Ali Baba pot. Georgous has been known to fall in.

And Rosie just pretends it hasn't happened.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Kittens and Christmas Trees

If you've ever had a kitten you'll know it's impossible to have a tree like this, our tree last year. All those treasured baubles would be lost in the kittens attempt to climb and destroy all your efforts.
So this is the compromise. Some very cheap red baubles, a cheapie 'star' at the top and I made very large ribbon bows. A few candy canes and the whole thing was done in an hour. I don't dislike this type of decoration, it just isn't me. It feels like I have someone else's tree in my sitting room. I think it looks a bit like a tree in a Mall.

Of course whilst whilst I was decorating, George (now named Georgous) had to try out it's kitten defying properties.... See him there by the bottom of the candy cane?

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Doing the mashed potato

You know all the problems I've had with this grid around the central feathers. I finally got them so I could hammer down with intense quilting alternate diamonds (and the alternates met when I got all the way round). The problem was I had used trunking as my straight line to do this and the resultant diamonds were about 50% too large and out of scale. I hit a wall of procrastination about the solution. Thanks to the wonderful ladies on QISE who gave me 'permission' to make a mistake I decided to ignore the grid and do this mashed potato background. I like it though I am worried it will pull up the quilt differently and I'll have major problems getting it to hang straightly.
We could do with more members on QISE to bring it up to a critical mass, so if you really really care about your work then this is the place for you.
Meanwhile every morning Rosie has taken to getting into this basin in our bathroom and curling up. I have no idea why but it does make me clean the basin daily.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Very cool

Suddenly I can see my work hanging in a gallery. How cool it this? You can do the same at

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Third round of feathers finished

Sorry it's another yellow photo but if I use the flash the texture gets washed out. Trust me, it is off white. Click on the photo to see the detail. (It should fill your screen) I've done a different background in each area to a, add texture and b, to stop me killing myself with boredom (grin).

Friday 27 November 2009

Sabine Hodgkinson

I know the quilters in Germany have learnt of the very sad passing of my friend Sabine. She was the International Rep for the German Quilters Guild.
I first met Sabine at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. We seemed to always be having a coffee or a drink at the same time and place. At first by accident and then we planned our time out from the FOQ. In 2008 Sabine was not around as she was too ill to come to the FOQ and she was missed. From then on we stayed in contact through phone and email.

Sabine, I'll miss you. I always felt when I write my blog, I was writing to you. So my friend, this entry is for you as well.
Much Love,

Slowly but surely

I lost yesterday with a couple of friends round in the morning and the afternoon at the hairdressers (do people actually enjoy wasting time at the hairdressers?)
Lost this morning to Doctors, pharmacy, cell phone repairs etc etc...
But this afternoon I'll try and get more these 3 round feathers done. If I do say so myself, it's looking very good.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Progress report and my lovely quilt by Ferret

So I've finished the 2nd round of feathers and have done the background on half of them. The journey is long but worthwhile.

And remember my surprise at the Festival of Quilts when Ferret revealed the quilt she'd made for me (we had done a swap)? Well I met her in a dark car park a couple of weeks ago and she handed it over. (we wondered what some undercover cops would have thought if they'd been watching). I've pinned on the quilt hanging in Fliss's bedroom until I find a place to hang it safely out of reach of the kittens.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Slow, but it is progress

A view of the back again. It's hard to show you progress on the front as the marking hid what's done and what's not.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Quite pleased

Apologies for the yellow tone of this photo, it seems to happen when I take photos indoors at night without flash. What I want you to see is the difference between the trapunto on the left (Done the normal way with water soluble thread and then the excess cut away) and the two layered batting on the right. There is almost no difference!!
This quilt is just under 80" square if it were any bigger I would have to go back to the cutting away method as it just wouldn't fit under the harp of my machines but next time for a quilt this size or smaller, this works for me. Also be warned, I don't think with a cotton batt or a heavier weight poly, I still would have found it impossible to fit under. So the Quilter's Dream Request Poly and the Hobbs wool combination works for me.

Friday 13 November 2009

Hello, I'm still here

So I've finished this one for the sofa at the cottage all but washing it and burying the threads.

Then I've gone back to the dreaded wholecloth. The one which has given me more problems than most of my quilts put together which is going some when you think there is no piecing an no appliqué.
For those of you not with me at the time, it was going to be a whole cloth with white batting under the trapunto areas and wool batting under the background. It was to be quilted in very fine YLI silk, white thread on the motifs and cream in the background, a sort of soft coloured trapunto.
So I did a quarter sized trial to test various stitching effects. It was looking good. It had diamond grid between the central motifs and the borders. These diamonds were to alternately trapuntoed and background quilted. I prepared all the trapunto round the motifs and worked at cutting out half of the diamonds when I discovered the alternate diamonds had swapped places when I got back round the circle.

Plan 2 was to gently disolve the water soluble thread so I could remove the diamonds and re-mark the grid. So far so good (Ferret helped me). Except some bits of the motifs broke away and some bit s of wetted water soluble thread had dried in hard lumps which were capable of breaking needles. grrrr.

Plan 3 was to start again. I cut out a piece the same length of more cotton sateen to discover it wasn't wide enough, nor was any I had in the house. So I washed everything out of the original top and remarked it. I planned to use a glue stick to stick the already cut out motifs of the white batting and stick them to the back. It was fine for the very central motifs but as I worked round the top the glue came unstuck. Then I used 505 spray. It worked fine until it came to the very fine ¼" lines of trapunto work. This is when I started screaming, rolled it up and put it away.

Until yesterday.
Ferret had mentioned the longarmers faux trapunto method. The longarmers use two layers of batting and heavily quilt between motifs to increase the loft. I used the lightest weight Quilter's Dream polyester, Request with Hobbs Wool on top.
So today I started to quilt it. And found how hard it was to stuff a quilt with two layers of batting into the harp of a normal domestic machine. Is it possible?
Read on....

Meanwhile the kittens disappeared, I searched the house and eventually found them hidden half way up the shelving of fabric about three foot above the floor.

Yes you can!!!! It wasn't easy but I slowly, slowly I've managed to quilt the middle. I still have to go back into the middle to do the background and that will probably take a few more hours as I have to reposition it so often.

This is the back, it isn't bright yellow (that's the camera), it's off white but it does show up how great the loft looks.

This is nothing like the original plan with the white and cream but the basic design is very good so I can save that technique for another day.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Sort of back on the road to quilting recovery

I made this quilt from an idea in a magazine, I 'think' it was QNM a few months ago and I 'think' it was a Kaffe Fasset quilt. It just seemed too easy for words and it was. I started with a strip 14½" X 2½" and then just kept adding more 2½" wide strips in a background colour (pale blue on white) alternating with prints. To stop it distorting whilst stitching I kept the background fabric on top for every seam.
Whilst trying to pin the backing, I had a little 'help' from George.

It's not a great quilt but it will serve it's purpose as a quilt for the sofa. It's finished at about 60" X 72" and at the moment I'm quilting feathers on all the background fabric. I may or may not quilt the prints, if and when I can decide what would look good.I might not be the most beautiful quilt in the world but it has got me started again.

Thursday 1 October 2009

I've tried

I still have a block on quilting. I followed the advice of others and just sat down at my machine and started doing a piece of work. It's OK but it doesn't rock my boat much. This could be the choice of fabric primarily. It's covered in bling. It glitters. I bought four bolts of this stuff very cheaply thinking the print was nice. It wasn't until I got home and unwrapped it, I found the glitter. It doesn't matter, it was very very cheap and I can use it to make donation quilts for kids.
So I'm still blocked. Perhaps I should just start making some bright quilts for kids until this phase has passed.
The kittens have been outside twice so far. This is their 2nd outing. Both DH and I are far more worried than we've ever been in the past about letting them out. The plus side will be not having the litter tray, the minus side is how much we shall worry.

Monday 28 September 2009

Einstein, Mozart and quilting

It seems there are two kinds of people who design their own work.

Those with a non science mathematical bent use sketchbooks, make samples, try ideas out.

Those with a science/mathematical bent, do all (or nearly all) of the design work in their head.

I've just listened to a program on Einstein and his violin. Apparently he particularly like Mozart who arranged and composed the whole composition in his head before committing it to paper. He also was fond of Bach (I have no idea of his composition method). Einstein used his violin playing to work out problems in his head and/or to clear his head and focus.

I suppose there are designers out there who do a mixture of both.

Random thoughts for a Monday morning. I still haven't got my quilting back on track though my brain is designing away at a rate of knots. It will come. Perhaps now Fliss is back at university and DH is back at work it will come back to me.

And the kittens on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Friday 25 September 2009

Size- does it matter?

No this isn't a porn question, it's a genuine query. As some of you know, I'm in the process of a book on feathers, how to use them, motifs and continuous feathers to use.

1.There are several ways for me to go. I can use a publisher but in truth this doesn't appeal.

Or I can self publish.

2.If I go for regular quilt book size, I can get it printed either in small quantities but high cost or large quantities but I could get stuck with loads of them unsold.

3.Or I can use Amazon and they will print of demand with each order, no risk for me but I'd have to sell 1,000s to make it worth my time

4.Or I can print myself which won't look so professional, but will be cheaper for you.

5.Or I can print myself on double sized paper so I can get more on a page and not leave you with having to enlarge the feathers. This would require me to buy an oversize printer but they have come down in price drastically so the risk for me isn't huge. The price would be higher than for the regular sized book but not nearly as much as if it came from a publisher or if I got it printed. (This is my favourite option as the book would be ready for you to use).

If you were to buy it, which option would you prefer?

Rosie (formerly Millie, she had a name change very soon after she acquired a name) has just discovered the curser. It makes it very difficult to do anything on the computer.
She gets between the screen and the keyboard.

And if I take it to the top of the screen, she is positive it has gone over the top and down the back.
So funny.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Not back into sewing yet

but I'm sure it will come. Colin's gone back to work but not travelling in the rush hour.
Did I tell you we changed the girl kitten's name from Millie (Millicent) to Rosie (Rosalind). A lifetime ago when Fliss and I went to see the Time Traveller's Wife, I drove on a local road where the body of a young girl, Millie Dowler, had been found. Once the two were joined in my brain, I had to change the kitten's name. Millie Dowler was a lovely young girl, only a year older than Fliss. The tragedy of her murder will remain with us all in the area forever.

Rosie loves her new name and responds to it well, particularly when accompanied by a bowl of food. I can see the vet putting her on a weight restricting diet

and George going on a weight increasing one. He just burns up calories like they are going out of fashion.

Thursday 3 September 2009


I made this skirt to go round the base of the bed. Ideally it wouldn't need such a skirt, in practice all my quilts (antique and those made by me) live under here. (And a roll of wool batting)
Today I cut this striped fabric for a strippy. I'd thought I could just rotary cut the strips. No way, the print veered to the left and right. This meant I had to eyeball it and cut by hand. The visual disturbance this caused made me quite nauseous.

I have no idea why this looks so yellow but I'm wondering whether to have the striped fabric going alternate directions like this

Or all the same way like this. Just try and imagine you are seeing this as black and white.

Monday 31 August 2009

Sorry, more kittens and a ship

We went to an Ikea on Sunday, perhaps not the best place to go on a holiday weekend but I realised I needed more of the fabric I bought the other week.
It was win win, not only did they have the last couple of bolts as it's about to be discontinued, but they'd reduced it from £5.99/metre to £3.99 a metre, it was incredibly well priced before but this was wonderful.
From the roof of the car park we saw this liner. When I was young I travelled on what was then amongst the largest passenger ships on the seas, but these new ships are like apartment blocks. The photo doesn't really convey the size. Truly huge. There was another, even larger, further down the docks but my camera phone isn't good enough to take photos from a moving car.
These were the kittens we didn't choose. The larger one at the front wasn't available nor the one on the lid of the cat box with nearly the same colouring as Millicent. It was very very hard to choose but we're delighted with our two. Both of them are very clever, heaps of fun and learn quickly what is and is not acceptable.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Just a quickie

The show you the breeders website and her boys and girls, Porteous

Saturday 29 August 2009

They have names!

Though the whole family nearly fell apart in the process..
Not sure how they ended up looking like one two headed cat

Friday 28 August 2009

The naming of cats is a difficult matter.

So far Napoleon and Josephine, Plato or Zeus for him, Davina for her or maybe Aphrodite and Apollo? She's the one with the ticked coat, he's with the spots. I can't write more, he's all over the keyboard..... but see the TS Elliot verse at the bottom.

Pepper Cory found this for me
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
T S Elliot