Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Quick Quilt

Yesterday afternoon I had a quick quilting interlude.  During the morning I'd got up to date with the wedding quilt, everything pieced is now quilted too.  DH took me out for a lunch at our local cafĂ©, bless him, and then it seemed a good time to make a cot quilt for a friend who has just had a baby. Dixie-May was born on 10th February and I will be meeting her next Monday.  Knowing I would be pushed for time I bought a lovely panel from Wendy at Camelot Crafts and yesterday afternoon I made it up into this quilt.  I'm very pleased with it.  The borders are simply pieced, the centre is simply quilted.  Maybe it wasn't as satisfying, creatively, as other things I do but I'm very pleased with it.  Bright, simple and perfect for a new baby.  I hope Dixie-May will like it.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Educational Visits

Crikey!  It's less than six weeks to the Wedding of the Year.  I've spent today working on the quilt, apart from a brief break to make and eat a cottage pie, and I think I'll be doing the same for most of this week.  It's all very well me thinking that as I'm "quilting as I go" the quilt will be finished when I add the final section but those sections are getting larger and larger and the quilting is taking longer and longer.  Today I added the fourth section with hand pieced blocks, Florida Star and English Wedding Ring this time, and then added a 2.5" border around the whole quilt in the small floral/cream fabric.
No more whole quilt pictures until David and Jessica have received it now.
Last week was school holiday and DH and I took Saz and Sam "down south" for the week, to Essex (now you know how I learned to cope with those "killer heels", in white, of course).  We stayed in a budget hotel and had some good adventures.  Sam was a star, coping with lots of new experiences, and Saz, Al and I managed without one cross word even though we were all in the same room!  It was a good trip except for one downer, my parents didn't feel up to seeing us, even briefly.  I'm not sure what's going on there, they haven't seen Sam since my 50th birthday - four and a half years ago!  I get in a tizz if I don't see Sam for four and a half days!!  We did have a good time with my sister though and Sam met his Aunty Clare for the first time, all good.  All the things we did with Sam were things I did as a child, I did with my children (and with my pupils) and now I'm doing them with my grandson.  He enjoyed the Science Museum, coped serenely with the push and shove of rush hour London, went over the Thames on the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and back under the Thames in the Dartford Tunnel, went on a big train to London and on an underground train.  When the weather is warmer we think we'll try a trip on the river and maybe take him on the London Eye and of course, London buses (which his great-great-grandad used to drive).
 Sam helping Aunty Clare with her jigsaw.
Waiting for a train at Stratford.
 Dressing up like a Roman at Lullingstone Roman Villa in Kent.
 Scaling the ruins of Eynsford Castle.
On an Underground "Tube" train in London with Grandad.
 Learning about water power at the Science Museum in London.
Sam waited patiently while a robot drew his portrait in sand.
 In the Apple Store with Grandad.
Sweet dreams Sam, we had some busy days.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Stags and Hens Battle It Out

Jessica's Hen Party was a great success.  The sun shone and it was a dry day.  The Stags joined the Hens for a session of Battlefield Live.  I was the official war photographer as I am a pacifist, and between battles I sat and read Pride and Prejudice and drank tea!  So everyone had a great time.
My DS and DDiL to be took it all equally seriously, I think they are well matched.
 DD took it less seriously but had a lot more fun than she expected!
There was a certain amount of fraternising with the enemy!
After a massive clean up job, showers, make-up and bling applied, the Hens went off for a very civilised and delicious dinner at The Crown in Stamford while the Stags went for a curry in Peterborough!
 I survived the evening remarkably well (the second time I've been out in the dark on a Saturday night this year!  I was glad to get out of my heels though, to think I used to teach all day, every day in heels much higher than these!!
Under seven weeks to the wedding, better get quilting!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Night Birds

This weekend I am looking forward to joining Jessica (DDiL to be) on her Hen Night.  I am honoured to have been invited (I shall be the most ancient person there and also the only sober one as I am unable to tolerate alcohol) and have had fun planning what I shall wear etc.  I shall be going with Saz who is one of Jessica's bridesmaids and we have booked overnight accommodation so we can relax.
I was reading Julie's interesting post about Valentine's Day in Japan and it occurred to me that not everybody would know about hen nights.  I didn't have one myself when I got married a million years ago, a stag night was traditional but not a hen night.  It is something that has grown, like Topsy, and so I did a bit of Googling and share the following:
Most brides like to indulge in a hen night as an opportunity to celebrate their upcoming wedding day with close female friends and family. Dancing the night away or spending the weekend at a luxurious spa are among the popular choices, some brides may even organise a holiday.  Today, these celebrations are viewed as a fun way to say goodbye to unmarried life, but this wasn't always the case.

In Middle English the word hen meant any female bird, which established the hen night as a woman-only affair. The tradition grew during the reign of Charles II (1630-1685) where it became an opportunity for the bride to contemplate her 'bottom drawer', a dowry of precious things collected in preparation for marriage. In contrast to the parties of today, this bride-to-be would spend the evening quietly at home with her family.
The tradition of the stag night is said to date back to the Spartan soldiers of Ancient Greece. The men would gather the night before the wedding to feast and gamble, as a way for the groom to say goodbye to his bachelor lifestyle. It was also said to be his last chance to gamble and to hide away his winnings, because after his marriage his wife would control his purse strings.  Despite such joking sentiments, marriage was actually very highly regarded in Sparta. In Ancient Britain, stag parties were held to ward off the presence of evil spirits before the big day.
In Victorian times, being a wife was seen as a natural role for a woman and the concept that she might entertain doubts before her wedding day simply wasn't considered. A traditional hen night, if it was held at all, was a small, private gathering where women talked and the bride contemplated her future duties as a wife.
Hens nights are often as riotous, if not more so, than stag nights, and, therefore, they usually don't take place on the eve of the wedding. Every bride wants to look her best on the big day, rather than bleary-eyed and hung-over. For this reason, the chief bridesmaid will organize the party a week or more in advance and takes responsibility for sending out invitations and arranging the venue.  Popular venues for hen night activities can include anything from paint-balling and white water rafting, to a short city break of shopping and lunching, or a visit to a health spa.  It should consist of all the things the bride enjoys and not cause her any embarrassment or discomfort, it is a night to celebrate with her and make her happy.                                                   from

Jessica's Hen Night will be a surprise for her, organised by the bridesmaids but with strict instructions from Jess that it is to " definitely be a very civilised affair, no strippers and no chocolate willies" - not like some of the drunken hen trips to Majorca that get featured on the television every so often, thank goodness!!  Photos to follow, have a good weekend whatever you're getting up to.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Friday, 8 February 2013

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Wedding Quilt - Progress Report

Progress is being made on the Wedding Quilt.
Golly these blocks look wobbly close up - I'm sure they would look better if I could get the camera angle straight on and when the quilting is finished, they are washed and pressed and that blue marker has disappeared.
 English Wedding Ring
Florida Star
 Steps to the Altar
Log Cabin

I had a little meltdown with getting one of the borders straight.  
DH produced a large spirit level.  
I love him very much but I have to say that this is not the most helpful he has ever been.  
Fortunately no blood was spilt!

Added in the light of day:

Aaaagh, I've just spotted (Friday 8th February, 9.35 a.m.) that the English Wedding Ring block is wrong, the triangles are pointing in the wrong direction on the top row.  Why didn't I see this on any occasion I checked it?  That's going to be an awful lot of unpicking.
Thank you for your lovely comments, DH and I are fine, he's a perfectionist and I'm more of a "I've done my best, that's the best I can do".  He didn't say anything about the English Wedding Ring block, I wonder whether he noticed and didn't dare, or whether he didn't notice and I can blame him!!
Ups and downs aside, it is lovely to be working on this quilt.  Especially when I am hand stitching I am able to think about David and Jessica and I'm putting a lot of love into the work.  As Jacquie Harvey says, "love in every stitch".  I'm finding I want to hand stitch it rather than machine it, even some of the straightforward seams, it's more personal.  Two more blocks to hand stitch today for the fourth border, English Wedding Ring (let's see if I can get it right) and Florida Star.  Happy weekend everyone. Lis x

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival Reports, a Birthday and an Update

I have got rather behind with reading the blogs I follow but must recommend you visit Julie (click on the link and then on "newer post" to see her four posts covering different aspects of the show) and Carin (then newer post for all five posts) for great coverage of the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival.  I find it very interesting that there is little overlap in the quilts Carin and Julie have shared, down to their own personal preferences and particular skills and interests in the field of textiles.  Also how some of the quilts instantly say "Japanese" while some appear more western in style to me, such a fantastic range of work and so much of it done completely by hand.
While I haven't been reading blogs I have been stitching and also spending time with DGS Sam who turned 5 on 30th January.  Cue photos of my gorgeous boy!
The Wedding Quilt is coming along quite nicely although I did have some hassle with one seam which I restitched THREE times.  I still don't know what went wrong but it's okay now thank goodness, must have been gremlins in my brain cell!  I checked on their bed size with DS and he said it's a double although they are planning to get a larger bed when they can afford it - okay darling, I'll make the quilt larger in anticipation of the new bed.  I'll post a photograph when I have some daylight to take one in.  It's currently snowing hard, with very large flakes and lots of wind - very soon time to head for my cocoon I think!