Monday, 31 May 2010

The Sewing

Seeing the lovely postcard on Susan's blog reminded me of this postcard, The Sewing,  that I saw for sale on ebay and didn't buy.  Never mind, it is lovely though.

AccuQuilt Go! Fabric Cutter - A Chance to Win

Quilters all over the world are trying to win an Accuquilt Go! Fabric cutter and one way is to sign up for their newsletter and hope you get lucky in a monthly draw (thanks to IHAN Kelly for this and other opportunities).  While signing up I found their great "Are You Really A Dedicated Quilter?" and thought I'd share it with you. 

Many thanks to everyone who responded to my review of the Clover Fork Pins,  particularly Leeann who lives in wonderful Whangarei in NZ and wrote,
If you imagine that your seam line is drawn on the fabric. You need to pin so that pin goes in before the line, and comes out past the line. This way the place you are going to sew can't move. It looks to me in your pictures that your pins go in and come up before the seam line. This is probably why some are off. When I learned to do this my piecing improved a lot. I haven't used these pins, I just use 2 pins, one each side. They look good though, I may have to try them. :-) 

No sewing for me today, I'm off to do a little gentle weeding (I usually sit on the ground to do it to make the most of my energy!) while the sun is shining here in Lincolnshire.  Have a great Bank Holiday Monday (Memorial Day if you are one of my US blogging friends).

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Clover Fork Pins Review

I promised I would write reviews of the notions I bought when I was in New Zealand and I'm going to start with the Fork Pins from Clover as I have been using them quite a lot and feel qualified to judge now!

These pins are also known as "mortgage pins" because they are rather expensive.  I paid for mine in Australian Dollars but I looked on the Clover website and they are priced at US$9.50, that's for 35 pins.  I also checked on several UK websites and found the price varied from £5.65 to £9.89 which shows it pays to shop around.

What They Claim To Do
I was sold the pins on the promise that they would ensure very accurate piecing and all my seams would line up perfectly...
The fork pins are very fine, 0.56mm, and don't seem especially robust but they actually went through several layers of fabric easily and smoothly once I got the knack.

How I Used The Fork Pins
Match the seams together where they are to join.
Put the fork pin through the seams with one prong either side of the stitching.  This will hold the fabric securely in position for sewing, especially if the seams are pressed in opposite directions and "lock" together nicely.
I was assured that the fork pins had been designed to allow machine stitching with them in place.  I found it worked well but if you are the sort of person who would NEVER do that, look away now!

My Results
So, what were my results like?
I actually had quite a lot of variation in the accuracy of my seams with these pins.
Some joins were a little way off
while some were spot on

To Buy Or Not To Buy
I now find the Clover fork pins easy and satisfying to use and I think, with further practice, my piecing will be reliably accurate (if not perfect) with their help.  So I am happy that they were a worthwhile purchase and not something to delegate to the "interesting but useless gadget" cupboard!

Name the Doll - a Giveaway

My friend and neighbour and sewing buddy, Georgie, at  All Things Crafty just gave me this link to a lovely giveaway so go over to where Lyn is celebrating her 2nd blogiversary.
Good luck!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Living Crafts in Tokyo

My Visit to Japan - 5

One of the things I did during my recent few days in Tokyo was visit the Edo Shitamachi Traditional Craft Museum.  "Shitamachi" translates as down town (thank you Auberginefleur at Japan Now & Then).
Unfortunately, on the day I visited, there were no craftspeople working there (demonstrations of craftmaking by artisans take place on the ground floor every Saturday and Sunday) but I was able to enjoy the showroom of Japanese crafts which is upstairs in this building at 2-22-13 Asakusa, Taito-ku which is a 12 minute walk (or, in my case an hour and a half wander) from the Tokyo-Metro Asakusa Station and is marked on most tourist maps of the Asakusa (a -sock-sa) area.   It is down a shopping arcade that looks very unlikely but if you miss it you'll come out at a large set of traffic lights on the main Kototoi Dori so just turn around a try again!  Asakusa is a great area to wander aimlessly and one of the best places in Tokyo to put away your map and guidebook and just see what you find.
The museum is open daily between 10am - 8pm and admission is free.  There is also a self-selection video player where you can watch films of craftspeople at work.  I enjoyed seeing a video of some very detailed glass cutting but of course the commentary was in Japanese.

The Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum displays traditional crafts from a wide variety of materials using skills and techniques developed from the old Edo period. The gallery was opened to preserve and popularize traditional crafts while promoting them as a viable industry.  There are approximately 400 items on display from fifty different craft disciplines.  These include work in tortoiseshell, lacquerwork, knives, fans, lanterns, brushes, gold leaf work, detailed wooden furniture, and paintings.  You cannot buy directly from the museum but the staff are able to direct you appropriate artisans if you are interested and there are leaflets available (in English) giving some information about the crafts and craftspeople.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I Have Been Sewing Too

I was looking at this blog and it doesn't appear that I've done much sewing recently!  I seem to have posted about other things.  So here are a couple of pictures of what I have been doing.
I'm working on a sampler quilt from Lynne Edwards' book and have just four more blocks to go before I can start arranging them, adding block borders, sashing, quilt borders...and I also have to decide whether I'm going to quilt as I go - which is what I'm considering.
 I've been looking at a couple of posts Leah Day did a while back about quilting a sampler quilt and they are inspiring me and filling me with terror too!

Also, some lovely visitors to the Blogger's Quilt Festival have commented that they would like to see some close up images of the detail of my wallhanging so I've added some pictures to my BQF post here.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Lincolnshire Lunch

You may (or may not) remember from a post here in April that I met up with a fellow blogger when I visited New Zealand.  Well today, Debbie, and her husband, Ian, came to lunch with us here in Lincolnshire.  It was lovely to see them both again and only sad that they didn't have time to stay longer and that I forgot to get my camera out.  We had a great catch up and chat - Debbie's been to the quilt exhibition at the V&A museum while they've been in England and she dropped some tantalising titbits about what there was to see and the good advice to get the headset guide when I go in June.  We fed them with some real Lincolnshire delicacies:  pork pie, stuffed chine, haslet, Lincolnshire Poacher cheese and Lincolnshire Plum loaf.  The cheese (eaten with the plum loaf) and the pork pie were particular hits!  If you'd like to try the chine or haslet, here are some recipes:

Lincolnshire Haslet
Serves 6-8
675g (1½lb) Lean Minced Pork
110g (4oz) Slightly Stale Bread
1 Medium Onion, finely minced
Caul Fat
Pinch Ground Dried Sage
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 170°C: 325°F: Gas 3.
Soak the bread in water for 30-45 minutes.
Squeeze bread, removing as much water as possible.
Mix with the minced pork, add the sage and season to taste.
Mould into a loaf shape, wrap with the caul.
Place on a baking tray.
Bake for 60 minutes.

Stuffed Chine
This superb Lincolnshire dish of salt pork filled with herbs is known as stuffed chine. Verlaine, in the mid-1870s, spent a year as a schoolmaster just north of Boston. He liked chine so much that he tried to find it elsewhere in England, but without success. Verlaine's chine was stuffed with leeks, spring onions, lettuce, raspberry leaves, parsley, thyme and marjoram. Nowadays parsley suffices, but you will need a great deal.
Serves: 6-8

1 Chine of pork
large bunch Fresh parsley
Take a careful look at your piece of meat. One side will be bordered with fat, the other will show the backbone. Turn the fat towards you, the bone away, with the lean side uppermost. Leaving a border of meat, make a deep slash from fat to bone (not to the edge of the joint but to the fat at the edges, leaving a pocket for the stuffing). You will not go through, as there is the unseen barrier of the vertebrae wings of bone.

Repeat, make five slashes in all. Turn over and do the same the other side. Soak the meat for 24 hours.

Meanwhile prepare an enormous chopping of parsley, and other greenery if you like. Use a processor, but do not reduce to a soup. A moist hash is easier to stuff than a coarsely chopped dry pile of parsley. Cram as much as you can into the slashes.

Tie the chine tightly into a cloth. Put into a pan, cover with cold water, and simmer for four hours. Change the water as it becomes salty. Cool in the water for two or three hours, remove, drain and press under a weight, with the meat still in its cloth.

To serve, unwrap the chine, and slice it form the fat end, parallel to the fat. The slices tend to fall apart, but reassemble them on the plate. In Lincolnshire you eat stuffed chine with vinegar.

Monday, 24 May 2010


My Visit to Japan - 4

I was delighted to find that a lot of ladies in Tokyo wear kimono, maybe not every day but certainly not only on high days and holidays.  I tried to take some photographs without being intrusive, sometimes with less success than at other times.  This photo above was my first attempt.  I was delighted to see the two young ladies but not very quick with my camera and only just caught them as they went off down the road.

At the Nezu Shrine there were ladies dressed in kimono for part of the festivities but I caught them "backstage"
and near the shrine there was a shop selling new and used kimono which these ladies were considering to add to their collections:

I love this photograph and the way it shows the traditional and the modern sides of Japan.  The lady in her beautiful kimono is using her mobile phone while she waits for the metro train.  I hope she wouldn't mind that I took her photo but after that I decided to stop sneaking around behind my camera.

I attended a shamisen (three-stringed instrument) concert where lots of the performers and the audience were in kimono
and there were two beautiful ladies in full geisha kimono dancing and singing
and so I approached one lady and asked if she minded if I took her photograph.  Not only did she not mind but she explained that her kimono was decorated with Japanese theatrical masks. 
Doesn't she look elegant?  She then suggested that we have our photo taken together - hmm, I don't look quite as elegant!
My first post on this blog was about a Quilters' Guild Area Day that I attended in Fleggburgh, Norfolk when Jenni Dobson was the guest speaker.  At that meeting Jenni gave a "live insight" into the kimono which was spellbinding and incredibly instructive.

Kimono literally translates as garment and is worn as a series of layers and ties, all with particular significance.  Now that Japan has become more westernised kimono are more often worn for festive occasions, to visit shrines and for weddings.  I suppose that's in a similar way to the Scots wearing their traditional kilts.

Kimono are made of fabric 13-14" wide and approximately 15 yards long.  Kimono are unstitched to be cleaned and to be stored and the Japanese show "respect for the selvedges" - no material is actually cut away during the making and as they are often passed on they can be made larger for the next wearer if necessary.  The Japanese also believe that any element used to make the kimono becomes part of the garment and should not be taken away - so any tacking will be found remaining in the finished garment.
I recently found a poignant post about the discoveries made when taking a kimono apart, you can read it on  Heather's blog.

It was wonderful on that occasion in Norfolk to have the opportunity to examine some kimono at close quarters and see how they had been stitched.  It was even more wonderful to be in Japan and see kimono being worn.

Jenni Dobson recommended "The Story of the Kimono" by Jill Liddell for anyone wishing to learn even more and I have finally tracked down a copy (it's out of print and ridiculous prices are asked for it on the various book seller sites I've tried previously) which is on the way from America at this very moment.  I look forward to sharing it with you when it arrives.  In the meantime there's a great website with loads of information about kimono that you might like to look at, it's

Sunday, 23 May 2010

More Giveaway Fun

The fun and excitement in quilting blogland just goes on and on.  SewCalGirl is having an amazing Hawaiian-themed giveaway on her blog and I'm getting an extra chance to win some of the goodies on offer by posting about it here.  There are three wonderful selections of items which include fabrics and patterns (but not the basket and cutting mat they are displayed on!!)

There are lots of ways to get an entry or eight in this great giveaway, from the straightforward "leave a comment" to posting about it like I'm doing or visiting the websites of the lovely people who are sponsoring the giveaway.  I'll stop now, you'll want to get over there (click on the link above or the logo on the right of my blog), please mention Lis sent you :)

Temari and Thimbles

I had this very exciting package all the way from Japan on Friday - excellent service too as I only placed the order from Chloe Patricia  on Sunday 16 May.

Lovely Nat had given me the information about these wonderful Japanese thimbles and also a link to making the bases myself

Making A Thimble Base
and this is what I ordered:
I'm going to make a Japanese silk thimble and a pin cushion.  I'm a little bit nervous about it - it looks very fiddley - but the instructions are good and clear.  I'll keep you informed with my progress.
In the meantime, if you want to see some gorgeous examples of woven thimbles, go to Temari Train, Debi's work is absolutely stunning.   

Temari balls are an folk art form that originated in China and were introduced to Japan five or six hundred years ago. The balls were originally made by mothers and grandmothers for the children to play with ...

 The photos of temari above are from the fantastic website which has a wealth of information, illustrations, tutorials and links and is well worth a serious browse.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Friday Night Sew-In: Saturday Morning Report, May

I had a lovely evening yesterday, the house all to myself, Nutella on toast for tea, feet up on the sofa and a few hours of handsewing my Storm at Sea miniature before watching the final ever episode of Ashes to Ashes - not sure what I think of the ending yet, I shall miss the series though.  I hope everybody else joining the Friday Night Sew-In also had a relaxing and productive time in one way or another.

Here's how I'm getting on:

This was what I brought home from New Zealand after the workshop at the Timaru mini-symposium and

this is what it looks like now:

 Not too much more to do!!

For those of you who like cute photos, here's one of my gorgeous Sam choosing the winner of the Sewmamasew Giveaway Day prize on my Sashiko Started It blog, isn't he brilliant?

Thank you to Heidi and Bobbi for organising another great Friday Night Sew-In, I'm looking forward to the next one already.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival

"On the Broads in May, Stalham"

This wallhanging is my contribution to the Bloggers' Quilt Festival which is being organised by Amy
I made this wallhanging, "On the Broads in May, Stalham",  to be a reminder of a lovely day out on a boat in Norfolk and I did share it on this blog in it's early stages back in  February this year.

We sailed from Stalham Staithe and I wanted to capture the lovely bright greens of spring, the flashes of the electric blue kingfishers glimpsed along the banks and the yellow water buttercups. To capture the gentle movement of the water through the reeds I have used sashiko stitching and I machined the quilt together using a decorative stitch reminiscent of a wading bird's footprint.

I added some little butterfly and dragonfly buttons (I would rather have used the diamond and enamel brooch I saw, unpriced, in one of those antique shops where you have to ring the bell to be let in but I imagine it would have cost a great amount of 'fabric-money') and some Swarovski crystal beads and gold stitching to represent the glinting sun on the water.

I am pleased with this quiltlet, it looks the way I imagined it - I was not after a landscape quilt or a picture, but a representation of a time and place.  I suppose the appliqued, bias-tape "reeds" and, of course, the buttons, are the closest aspect of the design that is pictorial.  It will hang on the wall in our holiday 'bach' in Mundesley, Norfolk.

Thank you for visiting, please go over to Amy's site and you'll see where you can find other blogs displaying quilts this week.

Added 26 May 2010:

Some lovely visitors to BQF have left comments or emailed me asking to see some more detail of my wallhanging so here are a few more photographs and thank you loads for your interest and your encouraging remarks, I really appreciate it.
Here you can see the wooden dragonfly button, the sashiko style hand stitiching that was done with a Valdini hand dyed variegated 35wt cotton thread.
This picture shows the Swarovski crystals and the overstitching on the seams which I did on my Silver 9000E machine.
This is the best photo I could get of the handquilting in gold thread along the bias tape "reeds".  I used a Mettler Metallic thread for that.
Finally, the butterfly wooden button and some more of the sashiko style stitching.  I'm going to do a little sashiko tutorial on my Japanese textiles blog soon but there are plenty on the web if you are interested, it's very therapeutic to do.

And the winner is...

Many, many thanks to everybody who visited during the SMS Giveaway Day.  I really enjoyed reading all 158 of your comments and I was delighted that so many people signed up to follow Sashiko Started It.
I know some people became followers to gain an additional entry in the giveaway and that's fine but I hope most of you will stay around and enjoy what I've got to share about my journey with Japanese textiles, sewing techniques and the whole of the country of Japan itself.
I would love to hear from you about your knowledge and experiences in those areas too, maybe you'd like to feature as a "Guest Blogger" on here?

Anyway, enough words and on to the results.  I asked my scrumptious grandson, Sam, to pick a winner out of my magic sashiko bag

 and the name he pulled out is, "Look, Nanny, look...'s  BEE  DAMON!"

Bee Damon said...
Why I'd like to visit Japan? Well, if I had to count all the reasons, we'd still be sitting here without getting any sleep 8D No, really. I've been interested in most Asian cultures since I was a little lad. Among the things I like most about Japan would be the food - as a vegetarian in Germany (Where meat is like... daily food) I found some Japanese dishes to be fresh and tasty for me. So when I finally get to visit Japan, I will eat out and enjoy it. =) And I absolutely love your giveaway! I'm not letting my thumbs go until the 20th! 8D
Congratulations Bee Damon,  please get in touch by email and let me have your postal address and I'll get your goodie parcel in the post immediately.
And very many thanks again to everybody who took part, I hope you had a lot of fun even if you didn't win, I know I did.  A big thank you too to Sewmamasew too for organising the whole thing so well.

A Difficult Choice

It's that time again, a lovely evening to be spent in poddy clothing and comfy slippers, with our favourite foods (don't get the chocolate on the sewing though) and the whole evening to devote to our lovely passion
there is a problem for us stitchers in England that Heidi  probably didn't foresee.
Tonight is also THE night.
Yes, at 9.00 p.m. on the good old BBC is the final ever episode of

What's a girl to do?
This is my plan.  An evening of sewing until just before 9, then a quick trip to the kitchen to stock up with a consoling drink and some fruit cake.  Then an hour in front of the television - with some hand sewing on my lap but probably not being touched.  Then, at 10, if I am not too distraught, (or weary), back to the quilting,  I'll be working on my miniature Storm at Sea, watch this space.

And yes, I do know about i-player and recording television programmes but it just wouldn't be the same would it?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

AccuQuilt Go! Fabric Cutter Giveaway

Wow, what a lot of wonderful things there are going on in blogland at the moment.  I have just come from  Kelly Jackson's blog, I Have A Notion and she has a great giveaway of an IHAN GO! Fabric Cutter by Accuquilt
You can take the straightforward 'make a comment' path for one entry or there are loads of more challenging options to gain extra entries. This is my entry and you should shoot over there too.  I know that reduces my odds of winning but quilters are kind like that :) 
The giveaway ends at on 28 May at 9.00 pm CMT so you've plenty of time.
This is what you can win so I reckon that's worth a bit of effort but, not being on texting terms with Oprah I decided against anything in the Ten Entries section.  Nor am I prepared to share photos of my sewing room with you as it is currently stacked with my darling son's worldly goods so that leaves me with trying for three entries by

"Writing a story, on your blog, about  My most embarrassing moment quilting or not."

Well, it's got to be my most embarrassing quilting moment as I couldn't possibly share my most embarrassing ever in my whole life moment.  Although if I win the AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter I promise I will - how about that for an incentive to choose me Kelly?
Okay, I've only been quilting for about four years so I've obviously got a lot to learn but I tend to be a "let's just give it a go" sort of person rather than a "let's read the instructions carefully and then get started" sort of person.  I had gathered a good selection of quilting magazines and one or two books but hadn't really read them particularly carefully.  No, untrue, I hadn't read them at all. 
So, I get started on my third ever quilt which is also my first quilt which will have traditional blocks in it.  My first quilt was an attempt at stained glass and my second a bargello for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary (it came out okay, a lot of love and not much skill in it). 
I'm cutting fabric into little pieces and sewing them back together and it's taking a long time.  Hmm, I reckon what I could do is sew one after another together in a long strip without removing them from the machine and then I could snip them apart.  This would save time and thread.  It's a good idea, it works really well and I'm feeling pleased with myself. 
So smug and pleased with myself in fact that I decide it would be a good idea to share my wonderful technique with the quilting world at large and later that day I sit down at my computer to type an email to British Patchwork & Quilting Magazine
I am eternally grateful to the God of Red Faces that while looking for the email address of P&Q magazine I came upon their regular "In a Nutshell" page and noticed a little section headed, "CHAIN  PIECING".

I didn't send the email and this is the finished quilt!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Thank You To Everybody Who Visited Me Here

Note from Lis added 21 May:  Please note that my SMS Giveaway (please scroll down or click here  to have a look) is now closed and I will be announcing the winner this morning, Friday 21 May. 

Thank you to everyone who visited here, left lovely comments and signed up as followers.  I have been absolutely blown away with the number of comments I have received, it makes me feel really good inside.  I hope I managed to email you all individually to say thank you but I have been amazed at how many visitors I've had and might have missed somebody out or not been able to find an email for you (although I tried even if you were a 'no-reply blogger').  It has been wonderful to read all your ideas about Japan and to read your compliments about my blog, thank you.
I hope you enjoy the things I'll be adding in the future, including more information about my recent visit to Tokyo, the projects I have for the fabric I bought there and something about the traditions and culture of the wonderful country of Japan.  Of course I'll also be announcing the winner of my giveaway on 21st May, here on this blog.

Sewmamasew's giveaway day was a lot of fun and if, like me, you've spent a lot of time rushing around the web signing up for all the gorgeous giveaways I hope you'll come back and browse through Sashiko Started It at leisure.

You may be interested to know that I have another blog where I share my non-Japanese quilty work and my musings on life in Lincolnshire, it's Online Quilting.  The next big event happening there is the Blogger's Quilt Festival which starts on Friday (which is also Friday Night Sew-In so it'll be a fun and quilty day).  A lot of the blogs I've visited during Giveaway Day were fairly new ones so I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage those new bloggers to carry on blogging, it is amazing where it can lead.

Beautiful Flowers

I have just picked a small bunch of the beautiful Lily of the Valley flowers that are blooming in my garden at the moment. I have seven stems in a small vase and they are perfuming the whole house. Isn't nature brilliant?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Giveaway Day - 17th May

I'm taking part in Sewmamasew's giveaway day on my Japanese blog, Sashiko Started It if you'd like to pop over there for the chance to win a goodie parcel.  Lots of other giveaways are listed on the Sewmamasew blog - you could spend all day having a good look around and entering all the ones you like.  Good luck.