Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Embroidery Challenge for 2012

Deanna at Eclectic Meanderings has alerted me to a stitching challenge that starts in January and looks very exciting. 
It's called Take a Stitch Tuesday and is being organised by Sharon B at Pintangle and what's more, it's free!  I'm going to sign up and try to keep up as I'm getting more interested in embroidery to embellish my work and know there is more to it than cross stitches, French knots and some long straight stitches that gather my work up!  I might not be able to manage every challenge but I'm going to give it a go. 
Why not pop over and have a look for yourself?  All the details are here.  See you at TAST 2012?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Stir Up Sunday

Stir up, O Lord,
the wills of your faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may by you be plenteously rewarded;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Collect for the Sunday before Advent has given rise to the tradition of  ‘Stir up Sunday’ the day on which we make our Christmas pudding.  I have adapted it slightly to suit our preferences and it is now the day (or a day very nearby) that I make the Christmas cake and everybody stirs the mixture and makes a wish.  Absentee members of the family get a stir done for them and DGS and DD were the first to stir as they were here on Friday - it's lovely the way that we can stretch these Christian traditions to make them our own.

My cake sat in the oven for most of yesterday, sending warm, spicy, Christmassy smells throughout the house.  I now have to decide how to decorate it.  I usually top it with glossy nuts and dried fruits but think I might go for a traditional snow scene this year.  What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

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

I did something a little different last night, knitting instead of sewing.  I've been working on these little slippers for a week or so.  I had to unpick the first one and then sort the pattern out which I wasn't too happy about.  I suppose I should have realised sooner that there was a problem but I've never knitted slippers before so I wasn't sure how it was all going to work - answer, it wasn't!!
The pattern was originally for using Bernat Sox wool and you can see it here:
Two things.  Firstly, it's not a UK pattern and so the shoe sizes are different.  I wear a size 5 and knitted a 7/8 which fits well and a 2.5mm needle is a size 12 in old money!  Secondly, the pattern should read:

Cast on 5 sts.
Beg at heel, work in garter st (knit every row), inc 1 st each end of needle on 4th and every following 6th row 3 times. 13 sts. 
Cast on 17 sts beg next 2 rows. 47 sts.
Cont even for 2 ins [5 cm] in total, ending with a WS row.

Anyway, I'm pleased with my little slippers now and will be knitting a few more pairs soon.  

I then decided to get on with some Christmas projects 
but was soon distracted by Children in Need on television, absolutely amazing generosity from the public in these horrid economic times and amazing stories of children and the people who help them.
Thanks to Heidi and Bobbi as ever, I hope you all had a great FNSI, today I am baking my Christmas cake (more about that tomorrow) and working on the Advent calendar shown above, have a good weekend whatever you're doing.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Tasty Fractals or Cauliflower Cheese

We've just had a very tasty lunch of cauliflower cheese adapted from the Hairy Bikers' recipe which was on television a couple of evenings ago.  I used a trendy Romanesque cauliflower which looks like something from outer space but is grown locally.  Here's some information and another recipe for using it.
With the addition of mushrooms and crispy bacon plus a tasty cheese sauce on top it was a very warming lunch which I enjoyed even though I'm not at all keen on cauliflower!
I steamed the cauliflower florets for a few minutes and dry-fried the bacon until crispy and broke it into pieces.  I then fried the chestnut mushrooms in the bacon fat and put all three ingredients together in an ovenproof dish.
Next I made a bechamel sauce and added some grated Lincolnshire Poacher cheese (very strongly flavoured) and a little grated nutmeg.  This was poured over the cauliflower mix and topped with grated cheese and fresh breadcrumbs.  35 minutes later in the oven (190C) and it was bubbling and crispy.
I've just found some interesting websites discussing the mathematics of Romanesque cauliflowers, Clifford was so blown away with his that he couldn't bring himself to eat it and John's thesis might even lead to a quilting project one day, enjoy!

Monday, 14 November 2011

My 500th Post, Giveaway Winners and a Knitting Bee

This is it, my 500th post and here are the winners of my celebratory giveaway, thank you to everyone who entered and for all your lovely comments.

The random number generator did it's thing and the winner of Keira's generous prize isBenta, who said
Hi, wow 500 posts, congrats! I love your first quilt, you are justified in bing proud of it, it's great! Fab colours! I was sent a quilt when Lusa was born 20 years ago, and thought I can do that, then proved I couldn't! 8" (ish) squares (ish) in random cotton and poly cotton and goodness knows what else, all cut by hand. The points are all over the place! I didn't add wadding but backed it first with an old brushed cotton sheet. Years later I added fleece and it became my camp blanket when the girls were brownies and guides (I cut a slit in the middle so I could wear it like a poncho!) I do love it! Thanks for the blast from the past! If I win kind Kiki's contribution, I'd love a charm pack as I've never used one, but hopefully you or Kiki would chose me one! 
I'll leave the choice of Charm Pack to Keira if that's okay Benta, congratulations.

The winner of the Inspirational Strippy Quilts magazine from Traplet is
Jenny on the other side of the world in gorgeous New Zealand who said,
Hi again Lis. Your first ever quilt looks pretty good to me, and is just so suitable to be hanging up in your bach with those lovely colours. My first quilt was one I made for the bed in our first caravan. Made in brown, cream and green with the fabrics ever so carefully co-ordinated, it served us well. I went to my first ever class and learned about rotary cutters, mats and rulers but did wonder why the teacher went on and on about the quarter inch seam! It is now retired and does duty in the car. Congratulations again on your 500 milestone.
I hope you'll enjoy reading a UK quilting magazine Jenny.
And finally, the winner of my sashiko tea mat, one of my lovely followers, is Sue who said
Great giveaway, I've updated my blog with the alert and you'll know that I'm a follower too! If I was to win the fabric I would like a blue FQ collection - I seem to be going for blues and reds at the moment.
My first quilt was a sashiko cushion cover, which I still have but it is in store as it is the worse for wear. I made it about 17 years ago when I first went to Bourne Quilters in Poole. I'd never heard of sashiko before then.

Well done Sue, I hope you like my little bit if sashiko.

I'll be emailing you for your snail mail addresses (but if you see this post before that please send me the details in an email) and getting your goodies on their way to you.  Thank you again to everyone who entered, I wish you could all be winners.

I had a lovely few days away with my parents, lots of lovely meals, catching up with family and the visit culminated in a knitting bee with Mummy which was great fun.  We'd been to John Lewis and she'd seen some wool she liked the look of (Riva by Debbie Bliss, who wouldn't?).  She hasn't done any knitting for a while but it's winter, an ideal time and so I was able to persuade her to buy some wool.  We sat down on Saturday while the menfolk were otherwise amused with manly stuff and knitted the afternoon away, chatting all the while.  I finished one of the mulberry-coloured items I am working on (to be revealed when I have a pair!) and Mummy got a long way up the back of the jacket she decided upon, a good afternoon's work.
Now I'm home again I have a lot of quilting to get on with but I must also do some tidying up in the garden as this Friday's green bin collection is the last one until next Spring!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


This is my 499th post and so today I'm going to launch my 500th post giveaway and also share my first ever quilt with you.  My 500th post will announce the winners of the giveaway goodies.

In 2004 when I decided to make a quilt for the first time I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I did know what I wanted to do, however.  I wanted to make a wallhanging to represent the sea and I had been inspired by seeing some examples of stained glass work.  One piece was a very modern design hanging in a craft shop in Mousehole, Cornwall, the other was a much older stained glass window in a church in Penzance, also in Cornwall. Without consulting any quilting books I decided how I would make my wallhanging and steamed ahead.  Here it is:

My trusty Singer sewing machine expired while I was attempting to stitch together the pieced top, a layer of something springy from the upholstery factory shop and the length of curtain lining that I used as backing.  This led to my first visit to the Festival of Quilts where I purchased a new machine and then rushed home to experiment with the array of embroidery stitches it offered.
"Cornish Seas" finished I proudly hung it in the wall of my bach where it remains. For all its faults I'm very proud of it and of all it has led to.  One day I might make "Cornish Seas II".

You very politely read through that but here's what you are really after - 
my 500th post giveaway!
There are three quilty gifts up for grabs.

1.  I am very pleased to tell you that Keira at the lovely Kiki's Craft Corner in bonny Scotland has agreed to sponsor this giveaway.  She will send one lucky winner either
and you get to choose.  
Head over to her website, have a look at all the gorgeous things Keira has there and leave me a comment saying which you'd like to win.  Sounds easy eh?  Many thanks to Keira for her generosity.

2.  The lovely people at British Patchwork & Quilting Magazine recently sent me a copy of their latest "Inspirational" publication to giveaway to one of you.  It's all about strippy quilts. 
For a chance to win this great book which has 14 super projects and features in it please leave me a comment about the first quilt you made.

3.  Finally, I am going to send one of my lovely followers the tea cup rug I made for the tutorial on quilt as you go (but not the cup and saucer I'm afraid!), you don't need to leave a comment for this one, I'll just choose from my "followers" list using the random number thingy.

So, to make it clear:
You can enter all the giveaways or just one or two.
1.  Leave me one comment about your first quilt for one chance to win "Inspirational Strippy Quilts".
2.  Leave me one comment giving your choice from the Out of Africa threads (list the four colour sets you'd like)/Charm Pack (e.g. Dogwood Trail) or Fat Quarter Bundle (e.g. Bundle 7 - blues) for one chance to win those goodies from Kiki's Craft Corner.
3.  Be a lovely follower.
4.  If you'd like to spread the news about my giveaway on your blog or Facebook please leave me a comment with the link to your post and I'll give you an extra chance in the giveaways as a thank you, the more the merrier.

I'm away from my computer for a few days now, visiting my parents and revisiting my inner Essex girl!  I'll announce the lucky winners in my next post, my 500th (who would have thought I had that much to say?!!), which will be on 14th November 2011 so entries remain open until then.
Good luck everybody and thank you to you all, those who have been with me since post number one right through to those who have recently joined me, your comments make my day, day after day.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Stitching and Knitting Weekend

Another weekend has passed and here's what I achieved.  Firstly I have really enjoyed doing the sashiko stitching on the quilt I made with Susan Briscoe a couple of weeks ago.  I had thought I might be able to use the sashiko as the quilting stitch but when I made the little mug rug (see the tutorial here) I tried stitching sashiko through two layers of fabric and the wadding and wasn't overly happy with the results, plus it was hard work.  I decided to use the sashiko as an embroidery embellishment to the quilt which I will then quilt, probably in the ditch, when it's all done and layered.
I've also had a little deviation from quilting and have got my knitting needles out.  The needles I have used to belong to my grandmother and I love knitting with them.  This is what I've done so far, too little for you to imagine what it might be!  It wasn't the colour I intended to choose but I think I was subconsciously influenced by Nat's post on dyeing with mulberries!

Quilt As You Go Tutorial

I promised you a tutorial on the little 'quilt as you go' piece we did at the Region 10 Quilters' Guild Area Day a couple of weeks ago, so here it is:
This is the sample piece I made on the day:
and this is how it was done:

To make one block you need
4 x 6" squares of fabric, two contrasting or complementary fabrics are nice
1 x 7.5" square of wadding
Sewing and quilting threads

1.  Join the four squares of fabric to make a 11.5" square

2.  Place the wadding on the wrong side, positioning it on the diagonal in the middle of the block.  Secure it in place, either with a few stitches at each corner or with a squirt of 505.

3.  Fold in half, rightsides together and stitch the short ends.

4.  Open out and line the long sides up.  Stitch together, leaving a small gap to turn the block out.  NB don't leave the gap at one of the ends as it will be more difficult to keep the corners neat.

5.  Turn through the block, ensuring the corners are pulled out and then handstitch the gap closed.

6.  Press and "quilt as desired".

You can make a quilt with these blocks and it will be all finished, wadding, backing and all as soon as you've joined the blocks.  I just made a single block and decorated it with sashiko stitching and tassels to make a pretty little mug rug, although, with the Japanese theme I had to have a pretty tea cup and saucer on mine.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Back to Tokyo 2010

I couldn't manage without a Japanese post in my series to celebrate 500 posts and found that I hadn't shared this one from my brief visit to Tokyo in 2010, so, here goes with:

My Visit to Japan - Part 9

When we had a short visit to Tokyo on our way home from New Zealand in May 2010 we decided to explore the area near to our ryokan rather than try to belt about "doing" the whole country.  We had very quickly agreed that we would be returning to this marvellous country as soon as funds permitted and so this wasn't a see all and end all visit.  This resulted in us visiting small places that we might not have noticed if we'd been trying to "do" all the major attractions.  One such place was the Taiko Drum Museum, just a decent length walk from Ryokan Sawanoya at 6-1-15 Asakusa.
There are over 600 drums in the museum's collection with about 200 on display at any one time.  The drums are from all over the world and of a wonderful range of ages.  There are coloured dots on the drums with a red dot meaning "Don't touch" but most of the drums can be played although of course you need to take particular care with some (blue dot).
Al is more of a musician than I am and enjoyed playing a variety of drums but we were both very interested in the decoration and design of the instruments, making them such beautiful items.
For lots more information can I send you to ? Jesse has written an amazingly detailed post on his visit to the Drum Museum in 2007. 
We had an interesting conversation with a lovely member of the family who own the drum business, Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten and she kindly took photographs of us in the museum and gave us some postcards as souvenirs.  I was very impressed at another example of a Japanese person taking time to explain to a non-Japanese speaking English tourist with patience and graciousness.  

Friday, 4 November 2011

My First Post - Revisited

As part of the celebrations for my 500th blog post I thought I'd have a look at my first post and revisit the people who commented.
It was Amy who got me into this (you have a lot to answer for Amy ha ha) as my first post was to enter her Bloggers' Quilt Festival in Spring 2009.  I shared my "Norfolk" quilt:
and at that time my blog was called Online Quilting.
(And I've just noticed that I have the quilt upsidedown in the photo - or the boats are sailing on a very choppy North Sea!)
Nine lovely people commented on my first post.
1.  Zonnah writes Snip.Sew.Send an online quilting bee and her most recent swap was Wonky Stars which look really great.  She also writes at Zonnah's Addictions and is currently showing some great photos from a trip to the beach.
2.  Carol from bonny Scotland but currently living in Tennessee, USA, blogs at Stitch Across the Border.  She is well up to speed with her Christmas projects (note to self....Advent panel!) and has some wonderfully inspirational posts and photos on her blog - love the peeling bark Carol.
3.  Kwiltmakr (Marlene) blogs from mid-west USA at Under the Rose and is currently having a de-clutter!  She hasn't posted much recently as she's been renovating her home (not a voluntary makeover, more an urgent rebuild).  It looks great now so I hope you have time to sew again soon Marlene.
4.  Happy Cottage Quilter will be on many of your blog lists, she has nearly 900 foloowers, posts frequently and also has a wonderful blog that she calls her "thriftin blog", Just a Little Southern Hospitality, which is a wonderful collection of all things antique, recycled and pre-loved, all beautifully arranged and photographed, such an inspiration.  I want to have tea at your house soon HCQ.
5.  Hetty in Toronto, Canada, has several blogs on the go but if you pop over to Crafts and Stuff you'll see the great hexagons she's currently addicted to. Hetty is a prolific quilter and her blog is a lovely mix of quilting and posts of everyday life in Ontario, cakes, flowers, family, all yummy things.
6.  Nicolette blogs from Holland, across the North Sea from me, and has many inspirational projects on her Tangled Textiles blog.  She works with a group of cyber stitchers on regular textile challenges.  The last one was on the theme of "Tools" and produced a great variety of interpretations, the next, due for completion in January 2012, is called "Look Up".  I'm looking forward to seeing what results from that.
7.  Jill, also in Canada, blogs at The Quilt Rat and is an artist in many media.  She is currently sharing her paper cutting designs, like the snowflakes we used to make as children but much, much more detailed and awesome.  I love the insects one, it could lead to a Hawaiian-style quilt with a difference.
8.  Amy herself left a comment on my first post.  You must all know Amy and her great blog but in case you've been missing out, here's a link:  Amy's Creative Side.  Amy, living in Utah, USA,  lives, sleeps and breathes quilting, blogging and inspiring us.  Thanks Amy.
9.  The final comment on my first post was from Stitchinpenny,  who lives in Florida, USA.  Penny makes the most of all her blessings as well as creating some lovely quilts.  Health can be an "issue" for her so pop over and give her a hug when you have a moment.
As a thank you to these lovely people who took the time to write me a comment and who encouraged me in my new venture into blogging I'm going to give them a free entry into my 500th post giveaway.  Watch this space as they say!
DH is still poorly (he has a nasty cold) so I'm now going to sit with him and continue with sashiko stitching my latest quilt.  It's therapeutic for me although I'm not sure it doesn't anything much for Al.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Bloggers' Quilt Festival, Autumn 2011

I am very late but, finally, here is my contribution to Amy's "Bloggers' Quilt Festival". The festival ends tomorrow but there will still be time to look at all the wonderful quilts.  I couldn't consider not taking part, even though I have been delayed by all kinds of things (including DH's germs), as it was Amy's BQF that got me started with this blog and as I am fast approaching my 500th post it seems fitting that this entry should kickstart the celebrations. 
So, which quilt to share?  Well, I have already posted about this quilt but it is one of my favourites and also one of my most recently completed so here is "Round and Round the Nara Gardens":

I couldn't manage to get a very square photograph of it but these are better than the original one I posted:
As you can see this quilt is made in Japanese-style fabrics (Nara Gardens) and I'm not sure the photos show it but I have tie-quilted it with a lovely green cotton thread.  This quilt lives on my guest bed and has been promised to several guests to sleep beneath but it didn't get finished in time.  You can't rush a good thing can you and it will be here for their next visits!  The design is a simple combination of Snowball and Framed Square blocks which I first made on a workshop with Jane Bottamley and I have used the pattern several times.  I wanted to make a Japanese version as soon as I saw the trellis effect that the combination of the blocks creates.
Thank you Amy for organising another great BQF, I'm off to look at more of the wonderful entries.