Thursday, 26 February 2015

Getting ready for the Oma's Blues Applique BOM

I seem to be getting ready for so many projects and I will be glad when I can get started on a few.

If you have not seen Esther's Blog yet you really should check it out. Esther Aliu is a textile artist and quilt designer. She established a private Yahoo group to link quilters world wide and regularly releases free patterns for the group. Membership is by application to Esther by email and comes through quite quickly. How do you all find Yahoo groups? I admit to being slightly ambivalent. I find the set-up a bit clunky but once you are in there are forums, advice, patterns and so much more. The BOM runs from January-November 2015.
The newly released pattern is called Oma's Blues which is a reference to her German grandmother's plates. I think blue and white quilts are quite beautiful and the design for this one is stunning.
There will be a central medallion plate with bird, flowers and foliage, surrounded by borders with other motifs.

I took a Chinese plate that we have to our LQS and came back with just the three fabrics you see above with the plate. The light blue and the darker fabric are just right but the fabric with hexagons will be kept in reserve. Not sure it has the right feel. I may have to make a detour on the way to London to get some more. I have very few blue fabrics in my stash and none with these kinds of tones.......

......a few days later and after our visit to London....

Mike and I spent last weekend staying with friends. On the way there a little detour was in order to a fab shop called Creative Quilting in Hampton Court Village. This shop had everything I needed, fabrics, notions and a whole lot more including the most helpful staff.
I bought a selection of fabrics with mid and light tones. These have now been washed and pressed. The photo below shows the color catchers from these fabrics at the top and from blue batiks at the bottom.

I ordered Mettler 60/2 threads online for the appliqué. I thought these would be the range of colours to blend with the blue fabrics. The background is Kona Solid White, a good white white, if you know what I mean.  
I'll be trying a couple of new products for my turned edge appliqué. The wash away sheets can be used in the photocopier to copy the pattern then to stabilize the pieces. It will also be used for the foundation piecing of the pieced triangle (see above around the central medallion of the Oma's Blues). Those teeny, tiny triangles have to be pieced in a circle!

The central medallion pattern pieces have now been printed and traced and next week I should have prepared the background square and have some actual progress to show.

A few tools I ordered online to help with the appliqué. I'll be reviewing them when they have been used.

close-up of the tips
Just a small finish to show you this week. I knitted a Perennial hat, pattern by Alana Dakos, from the Sweet Georgia yarn I used for the Oak Trail hat. All the details are on my Ravelry project page

I'm linking up to Freshly Finished Friday (link in the right side bar). Click through on the little blue frog to see the links to posts.

Have a super weekend. It is my granddaughter Isobel's 2nd birthday today and we are hosting a tea party here on Saturday for grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. Should be fun!


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Entangled Vines update- hate the yarn!

Do you ever start knitting with a yarn and really liking the feel and texture of it and then change your mind? I'm using Bergere Magic+ for my Entangled Vines. I loved the slightly soft feel and the colour when I started. As I have progressed with the sleeves, which are knitted on DPNS, I have had problems with splitting and pulling of the fibres with the ends of the needles. The whole cardi is knitted top down on a long circular needle so that there is a lot of weight and the yarn is probably handled more than if it were knitted in separate pieces. The photo with the book is taken with flash and this has made the stitches look neater but if you compare it to the photo below which was taken without flash you can see how uneven and slightly felted it looks. It may help to enlarge the photo on your browser. I'm seriously falling out of love with it and only hope that trying to even the stitches out with blocking will help.

I'll have to finish it now as it has cost me too much but I hate the lack of stitch definition. On the up side; as it is knit in one piece there will be no seaming and I have been able to try it on. It fits!

My book this week was lent to me by my friend Celia. It is The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow. Celia knows all about my quilting and thought this might suit me. It is about a woman who finds a quilt in her mother's attic and sets out to discover the secrets behind it. Asylums, royalty and love. If only my quilts had such a back story!An easy read and maybe not the best written book by a long way but enjoyable all the same. 
I will be linking up with Yarn along and Wool on Sundays, the links are in the right hand side bar.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Busy week

This week is flying by so I am taking a few minutes this morning to jot a few things down that I have been doing.

On Tuesday I hosted a sewing bee for the Honey Bee group I belong to. We are all ladies "d'un certain âge" who met at a beginners quilt course. There are about 6 or 7 of us who decided to keep meeting up as we enjoy each other's company so much. We have a laugh, share ideas and generally get along. Liz was feeling not so good so could not join us this week so there were only 5 of us; Gilly, Jan, Kathy, Jane and me.
Concentrating on getting down to work
Gilly with her new fabrics
Jan starting to bind her quilt

Jane and her Bargello quilt and Kathy with her embroidery sampler
I worked on some hand stitching of another flower block for the English Country Garden BOM so that I could organize drinks and lunch. I cooked 2 soups for lunch; Nigel Slater's Smoked Haddock Chowder and Jamie Oliver's Creamy Mushroom soup. Mike made some bread to go with the soups, Gilly brought her delicious chocolate brownies and some cheese and I made an apple and cinnamon tray bake.

As well as the usual show and tell we decided to do a small fabric swap and Jane had brought a pattern for foundation paper pieced stars. We will be using the swapped fabrics and some from our own stash to make the stars. The idea had been to try to use fabrics that would not be our normal choices but that was easier said than done as we were all drawn to the colours we like the best!

Jan brought along her subscription copy of Quiltmania, a French magazine that is also published in English. One of the projects featured was a Mystery Quilt BOM called Colmar by La Fée Pirouette (Nathalie Mèance) and only available in the UK though The Running Chicken Quilting Co. We all liked the project so much we rang and booked our places there and then. We want to work on a project together, building on our fledgling quilting skills by learning the new techniques. The photo of the first block is taken from the magazine.
The kits can be ordered mainly in Europe but with one outlet in Australia and one in the USA but places are filling up very fast. The written instructions are backed up by online videos so I think we should be able to cope. I am looking forward to improving my appliqué and embroidery skills.
New skills sometimes require new kit too- I ordered a set of Apliquick tools. I had seen them being used by Lynette Anderson on Youtube and I hope they will make it easier to turn fiddly edges on small pieces of appliqué. I also ordered a book on appliqué technique; "Simple Successful Applique" by Jeanne Sullivan. It arrived yesterday and I have only had a quick flick through it but it looks comprehensive with great photos, a video and patterns for 9 projects.

My cardigan is progressing well and I hope to have more photos next week.

Mike and I are off to stay with friends near London for a few days. A theatre visit is planned so I might include a review next week too.

Whatever you are doing, stay warm, stay dry and stay well.


Monday, 16 February 2015


Lots of bits and bobs to talk about today.

As you probably know, my love for yarn, like fabric, knows no bounds.
I have started a new cardi for myself and I'm taking part in a KAL (that is a knit-a-long for the non knitters amongst you)- the Alana-along KAL on the 2 Knit-chicks Podcast discussion board on Ravelry. The KAL is based on the patterns designed by Alana Dakos. I chose "Entangled Vines" from her book Botanical Knits. The KAL is running from Feb 1st -April 1st 2015. It is great fun posting photos of our progress so there is still plenty of time to join the group and cast on. I had finished the hat too quickly (Oak Trail featured here) and love her patterns so much I wanted to do something else. She is the designer of the Playful Stripes and Wee Wildflower cards I knitted for my grandchildren too.

So, progress so far.

Sleeve and shoulder detail
The wool is Bergere de France Magic+, a 80% wool/acrylic mix in the "Fonte" colour. It is a grayish brown and if I were to take a guess I would call it Nutmeg. Whatever, it is a useful color that will go with lots of tops/dresses until the weather warms up. In all honesty I did go to my LYS looking for something more Spring-like. 
 I am knitting on 24cm Chiaogoo fixed double point needles (4.5). The yarn is easy to use, does not split and I think will be pretty hard wearing. The design is knit from the neck down which I have done once before in a child's cardigan. It needed quite a bit of concentration to start with to follow the twisted cables and motifs on the sleeves but the chart and written instructions were very detailed.  I have now divided at the underarms and the rest of the body is in stocking stitch so ideal for watching TV and knitting. The sleeves will be picked up and knit on DPNS.

I'm so keen to knit this cardi quickly that I took it to the hairdressers, so......
just for a laugh....

I have been trying to catch up with my English Country Garden BOM and have now almost made 9 of the 10 patterns released. Here are the latest blocks.

The pansy is cut out and prepared for some hand sewing on Tuesday 17th. My lovely Honey Bees are coming to lunch and I will be able to host the day more easily if I stick to the hand sewing. There may be 6 or 7 of us so I'm hoping the large Victorian boardroom table in the conservatory plus the kitchen island and table will be enough room for sewing machines and cutting boards.

Now for a photo of a stocking-filler present that my husband bought for me at Christmas.

It is a vintage thimble case made of cockle shells. The stripes are a pretty greenish colour.  I am not sure if this has been added or is natural. Mike thinks it may be Victorian. The thimble which was included is nothing special but does fit me. I think it is so sweet.

This week I'm linking to Wool on Sundays, Needle and Thread Thursday and Yarn-along. All links in the right side column.

Have a fun week.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

And the winner is.....GYB 2015 giveaway.

And now, the winner of my Grow Your Blog 2015 giveaway is............
........ you'll have to wait until the end of this post!!!!

I had an amazing day at the Cutting Edge group in Ystradowen, Vale of Glamorgan on Tuesday. I have been on the waiting list for the group for months and finally got a place. I'm so thrilled as the group is vibrant, creative and so friendly. Everyone was welcoming and the variety of projects was mind-blowing. Not only that, they run some fabulous teaching days with something to appeal to everyone; Heirloom sewing, you've got it, tiny angel shoes anyone?, yes, it's there. I'm not sure what to try first. The first day I decided to try and catch up with the English Country Garden BOM. I've fallen behind with about 4 blocks outstanding- blame Christmas and the 'flu. Prior to the day I made 3 pieced blocks and took the fabrics for 3 blocks but I did not allow for the fun and chatter so only completed one and finished another today.

So, ta dah! My 2 new appliqué blocks for the English Country Garden BOM.

The details of the BOM are over on Kerry's blog, Pennydog Patchwork. The current block is free until next month and then there is a very small charge. I've now done 7 of the first 10 blocks. I have the backgrounds done for the marigold and pansy and will tackle the inset circle of the dahlia block right at the end.

And so to the Grow Your Blog party. This year has been fantastic so thank you to Vicki for organising it again this year. I really urge people to check it out and consider joining in next January. If you scroll right down to the bottom of the linked page on Vicki's blog there are links to lots of interesting posts. I have visited lots of the blogs but I will be continuing to visit more and I have gained some lovely followers too. The best thing for me was to ask specifically for comments- what interests you in a blog, why would you follow etc? This has made the giveaway constructive as well as a pleasure to hold.

I have had 70 comments- absolutely amazing. I hope I managed to keep on top of answering everyone. If not I apologize. It did get a bit frantic at the beginning.

And the winner is no.17..........Diane E.W.  of "I dew quilting"  Mike shut his eyes and made the draw for me. Well done and congratulations to Diane! I'll be contacting you for your home address to send the Owl wall hanging kit.

Thank you to everyone who took precious time to comment and join in. You all made it special for me.


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Marmalade wars

This morning (Sunday) is so cold. Next door's roof is covered in frost and there is a thick white foggy stillness to everything. Mike brought me toast and tea in bed as a treat with my marmalade on the side. I said only a nice person could have made marmalade as good as this, in my usual self deprecating way. He said his was just as good. You see, dear reader, we have totally different tastes in marmalade so each year we both make a batch- he prefers thick and dark with large peel chunks and I love a lighter, brighter, fresher marmalade with fine cut peel. On these differences are marriages founded. Oh bother, now I've got sticky hands and toast crumbs in the bed. Might have to get up soon and face the day.

I made myself a promise that I would finish off one or two WIPs before I started anything new this year. I had 6 blocks for this Japanese +x lap quilt done from the class at Patchfinders in Cheadle with the lovely Lucy Brennan (Charm About You) from last October. I had enjoyed the class and most of the blocks were already cut out so I'm not sure why it hung around so long. This week I spent 3 full days sewing up a storm to finish the other 19 blocks and assembling the top. The fabric is Juggling Summer by Zen Chic for Moda- quite different from anything else I have done but I'm loving it.

The quilt as it is measures 65 x 65". I have been contemplating adding a narrow dark border before binding. I thought that if I just added binding to it that I would lose a bit of all the outside blocks. I contacted Lucy for her opinion and she reminded me there was a ¼" seam allowance. Whatever was I thinking of(or not)?
So I am just going to add the binding now. Lucy also reminded me about black wadding (batting) so that if there is any bearding of fibres it will not show when quilted.
 Lucy quilted hers by hand with lovely large stitches. I love the look but hand quilting is not my thing so I would appreciate some ideas for machine quilting.

The quilt is destined to be a winter quilt for the conservatory. The room is quite warm enough when the sun is out as it is south facing but can be cooler early or later in the day.

Lastly, a film review. Whatever next? I went with my lovely friends Celia and Judith to our local cinema and arts centre, Chapter, in Cardiff to see "Testament of Youth". The film is based on the book by Vera Brittain and is the true story of her years during the first world war. This film is the most moving account of love, loss, hopelessness and the waste of life during this abominable war that I have ever seen. Superb acting especially by Alicia Vikander, a young Swedish actress. I can only say that if you get the chance to see it you must. A full review can be seen here by Tim Robey, film critic with the Telegraph paper.

Have a wonderful Sunday. I hope to get out and about later to enjoy the cold.


I've linked up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation. (the badge is in the right hand column)

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Reasons to be cheerful- finishes and flowers.

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who has visited via Vicki's Grow Your Blog party 2015 and decided to follow my quilting and crafting adventures this year. The link to the party is in the margin on the right side as is my post for the party so if you are just catching up and want a chance to win the giveaway please visit my  original post and leave a comment. You do not need to follow to enter the giveaway or you may have been a follower for some time- anyone can enter!

I LOVE the end of January and the beginning of February. The days are now getting slightly longer and the dreary long month of January with it's low light levels is over. I've got several finishes to share as well so hold on to your hats and here we go!

I made the two foundation pieced hearts at a class with Sue Warren at Busy Bees in Newport ages ago. They are made on the quilt as you go principle. I really enjoy FPP. This was a simple block but I think it is quite effective. It has been languishing in a drawer for a bit (I've just checked and it was October 2014 I am ashamed to say!) so I decided to make the blocks into the front of a pillow (20 x 16"). Just right in time for Valentine's Day this month.

I also have two small knitting finishes to share.
  • My very first pair of socks

The pattern is Hermione's Everyday socks by Erica Lueder. I adapted the pattern and used the Fish Lips Kiss heel which I found on Ravelry on Sox Therapy This pattern for the heel gets rid of any holes, flaps, picking up stitches and is well worth checking out. Full details of my socks are on my Ravelry page. 
  • My first knitted hat

The pattern for the beanie is Oak Trail by Alana Dakos from the first Botanical Knits book. I used a SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted yarn and the colourway is Oxblood. The yarn is subtly shaded and a very pretty color to cheer me up. I also treated myself to a few new circular needles and after lots of advice on Ravelry I plumped for Chiaogoo Red Lace fixed circulars. The tips are stainless steel with the size etched on, so no more guessing as numbers rub off. The red cables are flexible and they are a joy to use. I got mine from Loop who turned the order round very quickly. Sorry, just checked and I got mine from Meadow Yarn.

Lastly, even the garden is waking up with snowdrops poking cheerful heads through the ground. The best thing out there though is a Daphne Buhloa "Jacqueline Postill". Mike and I saw this bush a few years ago on a garden visit and had to have one. The scent is very sweet and it is covered in pretty pale pink florets.

Only problem is that the flowers do not last more than a day inside but the smell in the room was divine.

I'll be linking up to last Sunday's Wool on Sunday at the Rainbowhare blog and Nicole's Keep Calm Craft on at Frontier Dreams
I'll also be linking to Yarn-along with Ginny at Small things. Unfortunately, I've been reading on my Kindle this week so no book jacket to show. The novel is The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I'm half way through and really enjoying the descriptions of a mother and daughter struggling to maintain their genteel household in the post war years and the effects of taking a young married couple into the household. It is a great study of manners, class distinctions and the blurring of boundaries in the 20thC.
Also linking to Freshly Finished Friday for knitty finishes and TGIFF (link in the sidebar)

Did you notice my new orange social media buttons in the margin? I was reading one of the new blogs I followed from GYB 2015 this morning. Fabric and Memories with Cheri, the quilting nanny. She had added one or two new widgets to her blog by following tutorials on Code It Pretty. It was all explained so easily on the site so I had a go..... et voila!

So until February 15th when I'll publish the winner of the giveaway, have a wonderful week,