Sunday, 30 January 2011

New Title, Same Blog

We've changed the title of this blog to include all our travels.  We are currently thinking about when we will have the dollars and energy to return to New Zealand but in the meantime are having a few little jollies closer to home.
Lis has recently been to Marrakech with Sara and the wonderful Sam - who was treated like an imperial prince and hasn't quite come back down to earth since.

Next month Al and Lis are returning to Malta for a fortnight and looking forward to some spring-like weather, or at least an improvement on what we're having here at the moment.  Travel Ted will be coming with us of course.

Happy Birthday Sam

This is my lovely grandson on a walk with his grandad a few days ago.  Today is his third birthday - Sam, not Grandad!  Happy Birthday my scrumptious one.  He is such a joy and so full of life, it's hard to remember he
was born, by emergency Caesarian section, a month premature, has Down's Syndrome and was born with a hole in his heart and in need of an operation on his little tummy.  He's a fighter that's for sure.
I was planning to be cutting my new quilt out today, the fabrics are all washed and pressed and ready to become "Round and Round the Nara Garden" - working title.  I feel very weary so have decided not to risk ending up with a lot of pieces of fabric the wrong size!
I had a tiring day yesterday but it was a good day.  Al and I drove to Elton to meet DS and his GF at the Loch Fyne Restaurant there.  We'd not met GF before and so were quite nervous and on best behaviour - I was trying not to ask about colours for a double wedding ring quilt, you know the sort of thing!  Anyway, she is absolutely lovely, really easy to talk to, pretty, she and David complement each other well and are very comfortable together, excellent, and a delicious lunch too!  So I did a happy dance.
Today I'm taking it easy instead of sewing.  I had an hour by the window watching the birds for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.  The sparrowhawk put in an appearance (which rather put pay to other birds sitting around for a while) and we have far more house sparrows and starlings here than the average for the country.  On the downside no greenfinches were to be seen, the long-tailed tits must have been getting their breakfast elsewhere and the chaffinch didn't turn up until after I'd done the count!  It's lovely to feed and watch the birds though, one of life's simple pleasures.
Hoping you're all enjoying your Sunday.

PS two members of Global Piecers (Teresa and I) have decided on the photos for the starting point for our Landscape Challenge Quilt.  Please have a look and share your thoughts.  Thank you.

Landscape Challenge Quilt - Lis 1

This is the photograph I have chosen for my landscape quilt.  It's NZ (of course) and I love how atmospheric this picture is.  I'm hoping to end up with an encrusted, embroidered reminder of this lovely scene.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Landscape Challenge Quilt - Teresa 1

Teresa has sent some photographs which will be the starting point of her quilt for the Landscape Quilt Challenge.  She would like your thoughts.

Mediterranean Nights - My Sampler Quilt

Having finally finished my sampler quilt yesterday all I had the energy to do was fall asleep under it but today I'll share the pictures and what I learned.
The sampler quilt is now named "Mediterranean Nights" in reference to the colours I chose for it.  I've seen the doctor today and he said I have RSV, Human respiratory syncytial virus, (science bit here) and that he couldn't give me anything but a couple of weeks of sunshine might help.  I wonder if sleeping under this quilt will do any good!
Anyway, I digress.  Here's a photograph:
I am pleased with this quilt and love the way it looks on our bed and the colours and bright, liveliness of it.  It has been a steep "learning curve", a teach myself to quilt process, and the blocks are as they worked out, I didn't remake them and tried not to worry about the imperfections.  I used different quilting methods too in a quilt a row as you go way which worked well for me - it was easier to handle a row of four blocks on my machine than a whole quilt.
So what have I learned?
That I will never let a quilt project last so long again (I started this quilt in August 2008).
That I must buy sufficient fabric at the beginning.
That 1/4" seams mean just that, something near enough isn't good enough.
That I like foundation piecing.
That I don't like applique.
That I should never handstitch when I don't feel like it (unless I want all the stitches to be of various sizes and pointing in various directions).
That I enjoy English paper piecing.
That reading instructions carefully and then following them is often a good plan.
That I'm not afraid of colour.
That I'm proud of what I have achieved (although the quilt police wouldn't agree).
That Delectable Mountains aren't always delectable.
Thank you to everybody who has advised and applauded on this quilt's journey, I appreciate all your support.  Thanks to Lynne Edwards' for her very thorough Sampler Quilt books, she gave me the courage to attempt this quilt.
Okay, what's next?!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

To Do List Item Two - Ticked

  1. Quilt and finish Wiggly Nine Patch.
  2. Complete Sampler Quilt - sashing, assembling, layering & basting, quilting, finishing, phew.
  3. Japanese Round and Round the Garden quilt project.
  4. Kanzashi (portable project)...BQL Fabric Postcards...Global Piecers swaps.

  1. New Zealand projects.
  2. Blue and White quilt for DS.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Landscape Challenge Quilt Inspiration

Here are a few landscape quilts that I photographed at Timaru symposium in 2010 (with apologies that I didn't write down all the makers' names).  I thought we might find the range of styles and interpretations of "landscape" inspiring for our challenge.
I've just about decided on the photograph I'm going to use as my starting point, it's of New Zealand of course!  I'll share it in the next few days.  Please remember to email your photos and thoughts to me so that we can all share them. 

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Friday Night Sew-In: Saturday Morning Report, January 2011

Good morning FNSIers, I hope you all had a lovely evening.  After my fish and chips I headed to my sewing room, no, that's a lie, I took my sewing to my bedroom!  It was definitely an evening for being under a quilt or two.  Cosy in bed I made a few kanzashi (more pictures at Sashiko Started It) and other fabric flowers for brooches and then worked on my sampler quilt.  I have now joined twelve blocks together, quilted them and joined the backing pieces, so I'm over halfway through.  I might actually finish this quilt while it's still winter.
I was going to make an apron last night. his little nostalgic muse on aprons :

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few and because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons required less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.
After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

Send this to those who would know (and love) the story about Grandma's aprons.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill
to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron - but love...

It reminded me what a great invention an apron isI have a plastic-coated pinny in Liberty's peacock feather design which is rather attractive but not very practical for everyday use as it is rigid and of no use other than as a protection for the clothes underneath.
I decided to make an apron using Jenny's January challenge method.
Thinking about this brought back some memories of Nanny who always wore a pinny.  I can recall being a very irritating grandchild and pulling the tapes of Nanny's pinny undone while she was busy at the sink.  I remember Nanny's pinny continuing to hang by the stove for a very long time after her death, almost as if she might walk into the kitchen and tie it on at any moment.
I bought a lovely Laura Ashley skirt from the local hospice shop yesterday, I didn't even have to try it on as I knew I would be cutting it up.  Anyway, I got it home and rashly thought I'd see if I could squeeze into it (I have lost a bit of weight recently but it is two sizes smaller than I've been wearing).  You know what's fits!  It's gorgeous, I've dropped two dress sizes and I'm not going to make an apron with it!
Here's another couple of pieces of good news to end this post.  In "The Works" (the bargain book and stationery shop) they have a crafting section, mainly card making and scrapbooking.  I bought these reels of ribbon, 2m on each reel, for £1 each.
Then I got a great surprise when the postman rang with a parcel - for once I wasn't expecting anything!  This lovely collection of fabrics was a giveaway prize from Patchwork and Quilting's "Inspirations" magazine.  It's for a picnic set but I might have other ideas.  Those strawberries certainly scream "summer" don't they?
Have a great weekend, I hope you have time to sew.

Kanzashi for Friday Night Sew In

Last night was the first Friday Night Sew In of 2011, hosted by Heidi and Bobbi.  I worked on some kanzashi which I'm making into brooches.  I'm getting quite addicted to these although I still need to get them perfect - I always seem to have one petal pointing in the wrong direction with a bit of a twist to it!  Maybe I should make this my signature

Friday, 21 January 2011

Walking in the Sunshine

Today it's been very cold, but sunny.  Ideal for wrapping up warmly and going for a little walk with GS Sam.
He walked better than I did!
I'm all ready to take it very easy this evening with a gentle FNSI.  DH is just fetching fish and chips and then I'll put on my cosy red dressing gown and be ready to make a few kanzashi brooches and work on my sampler quilt.  Photos in the morning. 

Oh and just before I go, Jessica posted a design quiz. 
I came out as,
Results: You most resemble a "California Country".
Cozy… not oversized - a hand crafted gem. Your kitchen is your prize. Decorative, finished… elegant. A tailored bedroom rewards a hard day's work. Art that definitely does not match the sofa. An Asian asthetic intrigues your dinner guests. The graceful ceremony of sharing. 1,000's of hours of handcrafted detail provide your decorative foundation. Wild and crazy days in your wonderful home..
Suspected "California Country"
- Sandra Bullock
- Harrison Ford
- Jeff Bridges

I'm not sure how accurate that all is but it was fun!  Have a good FNSI everybody.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Quilts 4 London

At the first meeting of "Crafty Time Out" yesterday we agreed to take part in the London Olympics in 2012.  No, we won't be knitting ourselves some legwarmers and pounding the streets, we're going to make pennants.
Below is a copy of the poster promoting the project and the basic information, taken from their website at
I'm not working on that today though.  DH has gone to look at aeroplanes at Duxford with SiL so I'm sewing all day, and doing a happy dance.

Make a Pennant for a London 2012 Olympic and
 Paralympic Athlete
Size A3 (12" x 16");  14,000 Required; Closing date December 2011
 Quilts4london has received the Inspire Mark by the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad
The Project's Supporters include
Lynne Edwards, Gail Lawther, The International Felt Makers Association, Batik Guild, Cross Stitch Guild, UK Hand Knitting Association, Guild of Silk Painters, The Quilter's Guild of the British Isles, The Braid Society & The Woodturners of Great Britain.
     Individuals can make one - or make more than one if you like! 
Dates for your Diary 2011 - Collecting Pennants 

Stitch & Creative Crafts Show (QG Stand), Sandown, Sat 22nd January
Quilts4london Workshop, Patchwork Corner, 7th March 

Stitch & Craft Show, Olympia 2, London, 17th-20th March
Music on the Moor, Hemel Hempstead, 9th & 10th July
Festival of Quilts, NEC, 11th-14th August
The Knitting & Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, 6th-9th October

Express your support through the medium of fabric, fibre and stitch, and become part of the whole Olympic event in London 2012. Pennants can be any shape, any design, made by anyone regardless of their level of ability or age (children welcome) and using any textile media. Our aim is to present a Pennant to each Olympic and Paralympic athlete, a personal gift from you to them. Check out 'How To Make One' for guidelines. We will be 'stringing' them together for some amazing exhibitions in the time leading up to the 2012 Games. Twitter or Register to receive regular updates.Quilts4london Education Pack. Feedback from teachers is that it is brilliant for Ofsted. Lets get kids playing with Textiles. Scouts & Guides (Craft and Partnership Badges); Schools & After-School Clubs - create your own Olympic displays.  Quilts4london encourages schools to register with the London 2012 Get Set Network to receive access to resources & opportunities and to receive exclusive rewards & recognition for your school's Olympic inspired work. To help you, check out the Olympic Sports; Design ideas for Children's Pennants ; Forum and Web-Links for a fantastic source of contacts and ideas.
Olympic Branding Restrictions
'2012', 'London 2012', Olympic Rings, MMXII, etc  cannot be used on Pennants. 

Please Read  
Please post to: 'Quilts4London', 39 Hunting Gate, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. HP2 6NX, UK. Add a 4" Sleeve and a Label to the back with a name, date, location and a message too if you like. Please enclose a Cover Letter with contact details, it is for our own use and will not be passed on with the Pennant unless requested. Check our Gallery to see if the Pennant has been uploaded or call 01442 404234 to confirm we have received it. A label - 'Made by .......of..... for quilts4london, a project for The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. (date)' has been approved by LOCOG.
Our Scottish Coordinator is based in Southern Scotland. She has requested extra support covering other areas of Scotland. Please e-mail if you can help.
We receive no funding from the Olympics or any other organisation to cover the running costs of this project. 
Quilts4london is non-profit making.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Friday Night Sew-In

It's time for another great Friday Night Sew In.  I'll be working on my sampler quilt and looking forward to sharing my progress and seeing what you get up to. 
Get the warm drinks, yummy snacks and comfortable dressing gown ready and join Heidi, Bobbi and the rest of us for FNSI.  Click on the logo on the right to sign up.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Gift of a UFO

This French General table runner in the making is on the way to me courtesy of lovely Lara who had a UFO clear out.  I love the fabric and when it arrives I'll decide whether to proceed with the table runner or maybe create something else.  The only problem is where to put this on my to do list, I didn't reckon on adding UFOs to the list!!  Thank you Lara.
Today I've quilted the first row of blocks in my sampler quilt.  No photos as it's been a horrid, wet and grey day here today (although nothing like the wetness that others have been suffering).  The forecast is for the temperature to drop by the end of the week, yippee, more sewing!
I hope you're all enjoying a relaxing weekend.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Landscape Challenge Quilt

I am a member of a small, worldwide group of quilting friends, the Global Piecers.  We have regular swaps of fabricy things between ourselves but I have just launched a challenge quilt project.  As this will be to make a quilt for ourselves and not for a swap I have decided to open it to non-members of Global Piecers.  You can see the introductory information on our blog here.  Please leave a comment on that post, with your email address and I'll let you have the deadlines and details, and you'll be very welcome, the more the merrier.

New Year Projects

I've just launched two new projects for the start of a new year.
The first is a Fabric Postcards swap.  We all enjoyed the fabric postcards we made last year and for spring/Easter we're going to make cards with the theme  "Spring Green".  It will be fun to see how we all interpret the theme.  We'll post them out by 1st March and I'll share my set here when they arrive.

Our second project starting now is a Landscape Quilt Challenge.  This is not a swap but a challenge to make a quilt for ourselves but to share the thoughts, processes and the final outcome with the Global Piecers and on this blog.   Participants will email regular reports and photos to me which I'll upload to the blog for us all to see and comment on.  We might also get thoughts and encouragement from non-GPers (I'll put a link on my quilting blog).  In fact this challenge can be opened to non-GPers, we'd love to share as much quilty work with you as possible.  Comment below to be included, I'll email you the "deadlines and details".
We'll start by sharing a photograph of a landscape, by the end of January.  The photo will be the inspiration for our quilt.
I remember Alex Anderson did a landscape challenge on "Simply Quilts" and the results (all from the same photograph) were amazing.  Some of the results are here and here if you'd like a look. I couldn't make the video work but it's on if you'd like to try.
Looking forward to seeing all the inspiration - as soon as you like, you don't have to wait for the end of the month to email me your photo.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Help for Australian Flood Victims

On Monday 17th January,


Toni at Make It Perfect  will have a master list of bloggers who will be running auctions from their blogs, selling products that they make or from their stores.  You will have one week to bid on these auctions, and hopefully be the lucky winner of these great products.  Auctions will be open for 1 week, and will close at midnight on Monday 24th January.

All of the money raised at these auctions will go directly to the Queensland Government Flood Relief Appeal.

There are details on Toni's blog (click on the logo above) about how you can hold an auction and get even more involved.  Here's a reminder of why: 

At Gumtree the girls have come up with a very practical plan.  They are aiming to create "New Beginnings" sewing kits to give out to those who have lost the means to enjoy their craft.

This is what they'd like in each kit:

1. A handmade sewing caddy, complete with needlebook and pincushion.
2. A pack of embroidery scissors with a scissor keep.
3. Six individual skeins of stranded embroidery threads.
4. Embroidery needles.
5. 1 fat quarter of fabric.
If you can help, please email Jenny at - jennyofelefantz AT yahoo DOT com DOT au  for the address in Australia to post these kits to.  Click below for all the details:

Monday, 10 January 2011

Give Thanks....for Germs!

I had a very pleasant Sunday curled up on the sofa in front of the fire doing the stitchery for Jenny's "Give Thanks" BOM.

Then this morning I woke up with the beginnings of a cold - the horrid sore throat bit that feels as if you've swallowed razor blades, and pins and possibly a seam ripper too. 
Feeling very sorry for myself I returned to the sofa and the comfort of the fire and am delighted to say I have finished my little wall hanging this afternoon. 
My beloved made me a little wire hanger for it and here it is, all ready to go on 1st February when Jenny will reveal the first mini quilt to go in that cream space.  Thank you Michelle for sending me the link to this lovely project. 
Here it is in situ by the fire - why didn't I notce those coffee mugs when I was taking/uploading/selecting/cropping/copying the photo?  Maybe they just appeared as I added the photo to this post!
Before I was struck down I finished layering all the rows of blocks for my sampler quilt so I'm ready to get quilting as soon as I have the strength in my arms and brain cells.  How was your weekend?  I hope it was a good one.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Progress and Process

This is how far I've got with item 2 on my to do list (see right).  I have twenty sampler blocks so I'm creating five rows of four blocks, adding sashing, layering and tacking them and then I'm going to quilt each row before joining the whole thing together.  I hope this will mean I have manageable pieces of work to quilt.  I've got three rows done and I've run out of basting pins.  Oh dear, I'm going to have to make a trip to the LQS.  Do you think I will simply buy a couple of packs of pins and walk away?
I haven't used the "quilt as you go" method before, which I understand is usually block by block, making it very portable.
I've looked at Leah Day's great FMQ ideas and her suggestions for quilting a sampler quilt, making it a sampler of quilting as well as a sampler of piecing techniques.  You can see Leah's ideas here:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4
It's very inspiring but I think I'll do something rather more straightforward...

I've had a little discovery today which pleased me considerably.  For this quilt I'm using a wadding made from recycled plastic.  It's very easy to work with and sort of "sticks" to the fabric, making it easy to smooth the layers together.  I'm doing a happy dance.
Here's the science bit, taken from Asding's website:
Quilters Dream Green Poly, Mid Loft (Select) - Green - 122" wide
 Quilters Dream Green Poly, Mid Loft (Select) - Green - 122" wide £10.95 per metre.

Select (mid loft) - Dream Green is a soft, cozy wadding made 100% from recycled plastic bottles! Dream Green meets Quilters Dream's highest standards of quality, function and performance. Your needles will glide through this unique eco-friendly batting. Finished quilt may be machine washed and dried with little to no shrinkage. Dream Green is wrinkle resistant.

Each pound of Dream Green wadding keeps 10 plastic bottles out of our landfills. Plastic bottles are cut into chips, washed, melted and extruded into fine polyester fibres. These recycled fibres are indistinguishable from “virgin” polyester fibres yet are made without depleting our precious natural resources. To avoid additional processing Quilters Dream have kept the soft “natural” green bottle colour – but you can rest assured that Dream Green is colour-fast and compatible to all your finest quilts and projects.

Dream Green has been carded, cross-lapped and needlepunched for uniformity, strength, and resiliency. There is no scrim or resins yet you can stitch up to 12” apart! Utilizing eco-efficient recycling, Quilters Dream has developed a wonderful quilt wadding that truly accomplishes the meaning of “green.”

GREEN FACTS (supplied by Quilters Dream): Studies show that the energy saved by recycling a single plastic bottle – as compared to producing a new one from scratch – is enough to power a single 60-watt bulb for six hours. The amount of petroleum saved annually by using post-consumer bottles instead of virgin materials in the manufacturing process is enough to supply power to a city the size of Atlanta for an entire year! It is reported the process of recycling plastic bottles results in a 66% reduction of energy consumption, nearly 90% reduction of water usage and reduction of carbon dioxide by 2.5 times.

Monday, 3 January 2011

A Short Drama

Scene 1
Lis is in her sewing room applying sashing to some blocks for her sampler quilt.

Lis (shouts):  Aaagh, Al, Al, Al.
Al (rushing upstairs): What is it?
Lis:  There's blood, aaagh, blood.
Al:  Where from, what have you done?
Lis: I don't know, I'm bleeding.
Al:  Sit down sweetie, I'll get a flannel and the first aid box.
Lis:  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Al:  Just sit down.
Lis:  NO!  Take the blocks and get the blood out, I'll get a plaster.

Al (mystified) exits to the bathroom with an armful of bloody fabric.

Scene 2
Sometime later, Lis is in her sewing room pressing bloodless fabric blocks..

Lis (speaking to herself):  I must blog about this, I think I might have become a real quilter!

Image from the Graphics Fairy.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

To Do List Item One - Ticked

I have completed the first item on my new year to do list.  I'm pretty impressed with that!  I tried to make the edge of the quilt wiggly to tie in with the theme of this little quilt that was started at a workshop with Magie Relph and it ended up straighter than my intentionally straight edges usually are!

So now I can cross this quilt off my list
  1. Quilt and finish Wiggly Nine Patch
  2. Complete Sampler Quilt
  3. Japanese Round and Round le Jardin Quilt
  4. Ongoing projects:  kanzashi, Global Piecers swaps, BQLPC
and add a new project to the list.
  1. New Zealand projects
You can see the fabrics I bought in New Zealand here and I have to say it surprised me to look back at the post and remember some of those fabrics and what I planned to create with them! 

I've also just signed up for a wonderful BOM project, like I need more projects to do :)  I just couldn't resist, go and have a look at what Jenny's offering in her wonderful "Give Thanks" BOM.

Before any of that though I have to finish my Lynne Edwards' sampler quilt...

This morning we went to the coast for a bracing walk,
followed by a great cup of well deserved coffee at the Gibraltar Point visitor centre.  Home now and off to the sewing room!  Have a relaxing Sunday afternoon and I hope you keep warm and dry, or cool, depending where you are :)