Wednesday 27 April 2016

Inspiration in April

It is unseasonally cold at the moment, but the garden is an inspiration, especially when the sun comes out. Scarf and gloves are advisable though!

I love Hellebores, even when they are finished flowering; see those developing seed pods?

Our wild grass around the fruit trees has a growing population of fritillaries, they self-seed happily

This New Zealand flax hides a robin's nest!

Wasps (!) fertilise the gooseberry flowers

I even like the cheerful dandelion, though not everywhere...

Due to the cold these tulips won't open today, still a welcome sight
I have been inspired by these images for a new project, but that's for another time...


Friday 22 April 2016

Quilts, quilts, quilts

In my last post I mentioned that I had been on a visit to Exeter, including a visit to the quilt show that was held at the time. As well as getting to know online friends there, I went around the exhibition (of course!), I even took some photographs.
The pictures are not great (low light and strange shadows from the stands), but I'd like to keep these images of some of the work anyway:

There were ten or eleven hexagon quilts by Gretchen Danckwardt, all impressive with their small hexagons, and inspired by a month of the year. Though I cannot see myself ever making something similar, it was interesting to see the very different layouts that can be made with hexagons:

Pyjama Days (March) - detail

Pyjama Days (March) - the arm didn't quite belong there!

My Bejewelled, Scrappy Garden (July)

Falling Back (October)

Flower Power (May)

There were smaller panels displayed which were part of the Seeds Challenge:

Autumn Night by Margaret Garrood

One Year's Seed - Seven Years Weeds by Margaret Pellow

Jenna Clements' quilt based on the character of Rick Grimes from "The Walking Dead":

What Lies Ahead

Another area displayed quilts on Saints of Cornish Churches. This one appealed to me:

St Enoder by Beyond Patchwork; Sue Hooper and Carolyn Richards

Gwenllϊan by Bethan M. Hughes
Two quilts by Alison Bramley:

York 800 triptych

this must have been inspired by peacock feathers, but I did not get the name...

This traditional Baltimore hand appliqué (and hand quilted) quilt was impressive:

Baltimore Papercuts by Helen Clarke
This one was traditional, I liked its use of colour:

The Victorian Lady, part pieced by Andrea Beck, finished and longarm quilted by Kay Bell

And what about the quilting on this longarmed soft-coloured swoon quilt:

Swooning (2012) by Kay Bell
I have to show you some detail of that:

Well, hopefully you didn't find this post too long, I certainly enjoyed my day!

Back to sewing now, of course!


Friday 15 April 2016

A visit to Exeter and meeting online friends

It's been a while (time flies!) since I went on my little trip to Exeter.
I left on 1 April and the joke started with the weather. It was raining heavily and there was a nasty storm raging, causing the plane to be delayed coming in to Cork.

Of course it arrived eventually, and to my surprise the flight in the (propeller) plane (not the one in the photograph) was very comfortable, after surviving being shaken about quite a bit during the first few minutes. We even arrived right on schedule in Bristol after leaving much later than planned.

The flight was followed by a (slow due to road works) bus ride to Bristol railway station, and a comfortable but warm (something with the heating...) train ride to Exeter.

After checking in to my hotel close to this clock tower I went to explore. As you can see in the photographs, the weather was quite different on this side of the Irish Sea!

Of course I had to see the well known cathedral, though I decided the weather was too nice to go inside. The square around the cathedral is surrounded with old buildings, too, though not all from the same period.
That's probably what struck me most walking around Exeter: The (very) old buildings sit close together, and sometimes even side by side, with much newer ones.

The weekend I was visiting coincided with a local quilt show (of course!). Previously, I had "met" a local, Mary Emmens, online, and she had offered to give me a lift to the show which was quite a distance outside the city.
Have you ever met someone in "real life" for the first time after being in contact online for a while? Probably many of you have, but this was the first time it was happening to me. We had had contact over quilt patterns (Mary's brilliant patterns, my proof reading/editing) and through our blogs and Instagram for a while before this trip, but I wasn't sure how meeting up would work out.
In the event, we got on so well, we hardly stopped talking! All during our drive, while walking around the show - I may show you some images in another post - , and during a well earned rest with a cuppa, we talked and talked and talked! It gave an extra special feeling to a lovely weekend trip.

As a thank you for my editing work Mary also made me a surprise gift:

She had made me a roomy pouch filled with a variety of lovely gifts. And maybe best of all, the pouch sported a miniaturised block from one of her Welsh blanket patterns! Unique and wonderful!

After all that I had to do some shopping at the show, where I also met the lovely Jenna (instagram) from the Exeter Sewing Machine Company, who had a quilt hanging at the show, too!

The rest of this lovely weekend was spent outdoors, the weather was just so lovely! I even left my coat at the hotel at some point...

The return journey was quite uneventful, apart from having to take the first train in the morning, and having two friendly stewards on the return flight who even offered me a free tea because I didn't mind moving seats "to balance the plane"... 

And so I have sunny memories of my weekend in Exeter in more ways than one. Which I could do with, because this is what I came home to (airport car park in Cork):

By now the daily routine has resumed, with schools and work, meals and shopping, and taxiing boys around. The weather hasn't much improved though to be fair, it is now more variable - sun and rain and hail and even snow...!! I just try not to look too often out of my windows, and do some more sewing, of course!


Tuesday 12 April 2016

Goal Setting - Quarter 2 Finishalong

After some finishes, but not as many as I hoped, for the first three months of 2016, I am trying again in this second quarter:

1. Hearty

This quilt top from (More) Hearty Good Wishes fabrics and sashiko-stitched linen is virtually finished. Time to make this top into a quilt!

2. Oakshott
If I keep it in the list, it will be finished one day, right?!

3. Charity quilt no. 2
I finished no. 1 last quarter, let's get this one done!

4. Cubes quilt
This one didn't get looked at in the first quarter, but it's moved up a bit, so there may be a chance this gets done now...

5. Pouch 1

I have been on a pouch making spree lately, this one is halfway so should be finished soon.

6. Pouch 2

Another pouch in the making. This one is cut out, and the panels are ready, I will have to finish this one, too.

7. Circle mini

Mrs_Moog (Instagram) has inspired me to make some tiny circles for appliqué, and as I feared, they are addictive!!! This will become a mini.

8. Curved improv

The top is (probably) finished, time to turn it into a quilt.


The blocks are together for years, I intended to quilt it for free motion quilting practice. The idea is that the riot of colours and shapes will not show up my inexperience too much...

10.Stack and cut log cabin
Another top ready for quilting!

Well, I think I better keep it to this. If I add any more (and yes, there is more!) I will not know where to start and I will get nothing finished. And now I have put these all together I can see a recurring theme: Most of my quilts get stuck at the quilting phase! I really need to get more efficient with my quilting...

Better get back to sewing now, of course!

Linking up with

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Monday 4 April 2016

Fingerless Gloves - A Finish

- This is a finishalong post -
If you want to see an overview of all my finishes (and non-finishes) in the first quarter of 2016, see my overview post.
My original goal setting post can be found HERE.

In January I posted a not so flattering image of the fingerless gloves I had in progress. I was entering it in the Finishalong, with the aim of getting it finished in the first three months of the year... and I did!

I had never managed to knit an item in the round before, though I tried a few times. This time was different.

First of all I came across a mention of "Continental knitting". After some investigation (see this post from Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch for a comprehensive explanation and more links) I found that I was an English knitter. Who knew?! I started knitting the Continental way, and my hands and wrists can cope so much better with this technique and I have a lot more control. No matter that I am still quite a slow knitter, I put that down to my inexperience...

Secondly, I found very short flexible needles. The length is just right for knitting socks or - you guess it - gloves and wrist warmers. No more struggle to keep control of four double pointed knitting needles!

Then I read Lynz' post on Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts and I decided I wanted to make a pair. All set with some wool and the flexible needle(s) I started in December 2015.

Then in January, after the mention of this project in the Finishalong goal setting post, I got a date for an operation on my hand. Knowing that I would not fit my hand into ordinary gloves while being bandaged up, I had an extra incentive to finish these. I'd be needing them to keep my hands warm!

And so they did:

I knitted them in a thinner wool than the pattern called for (I used what I had), which suited the needles better, too. To make up for it I knitted the largest size, though I think I could have gotten away with the middle size. I am a rather loose knitter... I also added two extra stitches when starting the rows for the thumb and this was a good choice.
I used the flexible needle for the main glove, the thumbs had to be knitted with DPNs, but since there were so few stitches for that it was not really a problem.
The edging turns out lovely and was very easy to do.

I could even see myself making another pair in thicker wool, to keep my hands even toastier next winter!

Linking up with #2016FAL:

2016 FAL


Charity Quilt - A finish

- This is a finishalong post -
If you want to see an overview of all my finishes (and non-finishes) in the first quarter of 2016, see my overview post.
My original goal setting post can be found HERE.

My second finish is this quilt:

Taking the opportunity for photographs while the sun shines

The quilt has been a collaborative effort of members of the Library Quilters, the same group holding an exhibition at the end of February. And yes, this quilt was part of that exhibition. After it was decided that the quilt should be in the exhibition, I finally speeded up my needle and thread and finished it.
It seems I need strong incentives to finish a project. Even when all that's needed was hand stitching down the binding...

But, in the end only the result counts! And this has turned out to be a lovely quilt if I can say so myself.
The 12" blocks have been made by the different members in fabrics and a pattern of their own choosing. The only requirement was to use (some) blue, and some of us used a piece of the same blue-grey fabric. In the end there were enough blocks for two quilts, so I divided the blocks between the two for the most pleasing combination. The fabrics for sashing, backing and binding have also been donated by different members, and the wadding was "found" in my own shelves.

As you can see most blocks are pieced, but each quilt has one appliqué block. The blocks were cut to a uniform size or marked up to the same size in the case of a hand stitched block. I attached the solid cream sashing to the blocks according to this tutorial for a smooth finish to the quilt.

After I stabilised the quilt by machine quilting in straight lines around the blocks, the quilt was passed around the group to add their hand quilting to it. Each chose a block or two and quilted it as they liked.

an example of the hand quilting

It is surprising how well blocks from different makers with different ideas can come together into a cohesive quilt with only a couple of predetermined "rules".
The binding was made from a check fabric and to get the diagonal effect of the print I cut it on the bias contrary to what I usually do. I attached the binding (method here), then trimmed the quilt and, as mentioned in my goal-setting post, I hand stitched the binding to the back.
To complete the project I attached a label to the quilt (made according to this tutorial) in anticipation of its purpose to bring in money for charity.

quilt label, and the lovely diagonal check binding

I also attached a sleeve to the quilt, but I removed it again after the exhibition.


Linking up with #2016FAL:

2016 FAL