Friday, 30 October 2009

Paris squares - Quilting the middle

I have done some machine quilting on my Paris Squares quilt. Forgot to say in the basting tutorial. I use a spare bit of fabric and stick it on the outside bit of wadding and backing fabric.This is so I can check my tension using the identical fabrics and wadding that I have used in my quilt. I also use it to test out any markers that I may use on my quilt. Especially now I have heard from a couple people that they have had trouble removing quilting pens on some fabrics. I have to say this has never happened to me, but I've seen how upsetting it can be.

Another tip I would like to share: I like to mark my 'exit routes' while machine quilting, it helps me to aim in the right direction and not get myself blocked into a corner (so easy to do when concentrating so hard on the quilting) so I have to either stop and re-start quilting or I have to go over previously sew lines, both of which I don't like to do. I use those little tiny 'post-it' page markers, when one loses all it's stick, I just bin it and use another. They are easy to peel off.
I have now done all the quilting on the centre part of the quilt - just a boring squiggle I'm afraid. Sorry.
I shall do something a little more fancy in the borders.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

We Will Rock You

Himself and I celebrated our thirty first wedding anniversary yesterday and so we went to that there Lunnon.We went off to the British Museum first, but I'll tell you about that in another post. We also had tickets to go and see 'We Will Rock You'. We came out of the tube on to Tottenham Court Road and thought we were going to struggle to find the Dominion Theatre, but it's right opposite - huzzah:-)The show was really enjoyable. I must admit, I didn't think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did, and certainly not as much as 'Himself'(who loves Queen music) I mean I am fond of Queen songs, but not that fond if you know what I mean. However, I was pleasantly surprised at just how good the show was. Very British though, we had some Americans sitting nearby (the UK is very good for them, financially right now) and they seemed a bit baffled by all the audience participation, slang and way of speaking we take for granted. I think they enjoyed it though. Sadly no photos were allowed inside and we were too cheap to buy a programme (experience has taught us that we read it in the theatre and maybe have a look at it again once we get home and then it just gets shoved somewhere gathering dust). so not much to show you of the inside. There were lots of Freddie Mercury/Queen photos and explanations inside the theatre and it was very interesting looking at all those before the show started.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Putting it all together (basting tutorial)

Today's the day when I'm finally going to get a chance to put the Paris squares quilt 'sandwich' together.

I've tried hand basting (but frankly, I lose the will to live.) I've tried safety pins (sheesh, I can't be doing with the hassle having to remember to remove them while I'm quilting.) I've tried no basting at all, with just a couple of pins (works fine for very, very small quilts,) but the method that suits me best is a spray and currently I use 'Sullivans' (only available in the USA). I agree it's rather messy as the glue spray does travel somewhat (I've learnt to use it more and more sparingly) I lay sheets down around where I'm working and they go straight into the wash when I'm done. Some people ask if it 'clogs up' my sewing machine - no, not at all. I usually stick my quilts in the washing machine after I have made them anyway, so any glue residue is washed away. I must admit, I don't wear a mask, but I try not to breathe the stuff in either. On BQL the Sharon Shamber method of basting was talked about and looking at her (very good) videos, I sort of use the same method, just with a can of spray rather than hand stitched basting. Here is how I do my basting (on the dining room table to save my back):
I like to use a spray starch (Faultless)on my backing fabric (it's a tedious job ironing a huge piece of plain fabric.)I lay the backing fabric, right side down (if it has one) on the table (I wash the table afterwards with a dishcloth and fairy liquid, sheets are placed on the floor around the table to catch any stray spraying) My wadding is rolled on to a cardboard tube (from a curtain shop) and laid on the backing fabric, so I know where to start. I then roll the wadding back and spray very lightly, in a line across the backing fabric. Lay the wadding onto the sprayed portion of backing fabric, spray another section of backing fabric and roll on some more wadding, smoothing it out as you go. Keep going until you reach the end of your backing fabric. Then roll your quilt top right side down on to the cardboard roll.Decide where you want to place the quilt top and lightly spray that piece of wadding. Lay the first part of the quilt top on to the sprayed wadding, again smoothing out any wrinkles as you go. Keep spraying and unrolling a little more of the quilt until the whole top is completely rolled out. Remove the cardboard tube, pick up the quilt top and go and quilt. Remember to clear up any excess glue that has strayed - a little bit of washing up liquid and some warm water cleans my table top off. The sheets that were on the floor, go straight into the next white wash. Apologies for the very blue tinge to all the photos - I have no idea why that is, the photos were all taken early in the morning, but not that early!

P.s. Nothing to do with basting, but for anyone who has Ikea sofas and chairs you can get new covers for them here

Sunday, 25 October 2009

My Clever Parents

We drove down to see my Parents yesterday, a horrible journey in the pouring rain. What a grotty start to half term, we saw loads of caravans heading off to the New Forest, Devon and Cornwall - I only hope they have better weather there.

My Mother has been a busy lady, she's doing a City & Guilds embroidery course and if you thought this was a group of ladies sitting in a circle doing a little gentile sewing, you couldn't be more wrong! Here is my Mum with one of her wallhangings:
She does lots of diverse things with her fabrics including, felting, distressing, burning and dyeing and of course stitching. Lots of her pieces are made using silk dupion, which gives the most amazing sheen and two tone effect to her work. This is an interesting sampler piece with all the wonderful three dimensional aspects, My photos do not do her work justice.She's having a ball and has made so many creative pieces, including this painted and manipulated silk box and vase, inspired by cauliflower stalks of all things!I suspect she'll be quite sad when it's all over and will be looking for another challenge.
This piece:is a very subtle 3d composition of hand felted, embroidered and beaded shells and molluscs, the oyster shell in the middle lifts up and has more embroidery inside.

My Father has taken up watercolours since he retired and we have been lucky enough to have been given a couple of pictures to hang on our walls. He specialises in painting buildings and architecture, his work gets better and better.
EDIT: My Mum would love to know what you think of her stuff, please leave a comment so I can tell her.

Sunday knitting

One of my neighbours came round for a coffee and a chat. She's a crafty lady, there we were talking away, about this and that, then she asks me if I want to know what's in her little bag - I tell her I wouldn't dream of being so nosy. Then she whips out these beauties, telling me she finished them this morning! I've tried them on for size and they fit perfectly. Mmmmmmm, hand knitted socks.

I was then able to show her the scarf I've been knitting for the last week and a half and funnily enough, that was finished too just this morning: It's quite difficult taking a photo of oneself wearing something. I like this scarf so much, I'm keeping it for me.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Want a laugh?

Ooh ooh, I have to tell you about this funny website Warning - contains rude bits/adult content.

I've read it all from start to finish. I laughed so much at many of her comments. Egads, there is some rubbish being offered for sale out there. What on earth were people thinking? It'll make me think twice about some of the stuff I make and wonder about just throwing it in the bin.

Just keep knitting, just keep knitting.....

Wow, the scarf now measures 150cm, so I've nearly finished:I still have plenty of this wool left though, so I'm almost tempted to knit another scarf. Hmmmm, but thinking sensibly maybe this isn't such a good idea at the moment as I have too many other things I want to make.I am very pleased with how this one is looking though.

I've also put more borders on the Paris squares quilt:I have changed the design slightly. I designed another version with a different border in EQ6. I was worrying (unnecessarily as it happens) about not having quite enough of the aqua fabric. It's getting bigger and bigger (and more difficult to photograph) but I am glad to have finished sewing all those 3/4" squares:I do think they look good though - I cannot wait to do the quilting. I think that will now have to wait until next week though as I have a hairdressers appointment this afternoon and then I am at work for the next three days. Never mind, this gives me plenty of time to think about how I am going to quilt it. On BQL there has been a discussion about spray basting, so when I come to do it, I will probably take a few pictures and describe how I baste my quilts.

Meanwhile, I have been spending several hours arranging everything for this year's Secret Santa Swap on BQL. Transferring all the names, email addresses and home addresses takes so much time. assigning everyone numbers so I can then do a random swap, checking that no one is sending to or recieving from, the same person in both groups took ages too. I then sent everyone e-mails to check that their e-mail addresses were correct and thanks to a ('helpful' - grrr) update by Microsoft a couple of months ago, now will not allow bulk sends. So each has to go seperatly with about a six second delay for each one, it doesn't sound like a long time, but when you are waiting with finger poised to 'allow' each e-mail and you have well over a hundred to do, it does get tedious. (I have to do the same each month for the challenge passwords too) Phew, I'll be glad when that's all over.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Sushi and a lecture

No knitting yesterday evening as Himself and I went to Bristol. Chic Girl, The Whizz Kid. the WK's Mama, Himself and I had supper first - sushi and sashimi from Obento. Yum yum yum.

Then on to St Georges, to hear a lecture by Mark Carwadine (zoologist and conservationist) organised by the World Land Trust. There is no way I was going to take a photo while he was standing there, but this is the stage and the view we got.Wasn't it great? Chic girl bought the tickets and got us some jolly good seats. As a bonus I managed to stay awake too, I don't know what it is, but a warm darkened room, a full tummy and no matter how interesting the speaker, I'm either snoring or drooling with my head on someones shoulder!

After the lecture was finished and the lights went up, I noticed this rather lovely carving behind the stage.Mark showed us the now infamous You-tube clip with him and a Kakapo named Sirocco (all the Kakapos have names), although everyone was laughing, because at first it was funny, but as the film went on, I thought, actually it looked very uncomfortable, sure enough Mark was bleeding and told us the parrot had knocked the top off a mole on his neck.

Here is the book to accompany the TV series:

Thursday, 15 October 2009

What a waste of a morning....

Gah, that was a frustrating morning, computer kept crashing as soon as I tried to do anything with some photos - there must be some horrible corruption somewhere. I couldn't get online either - very frustrating! Anyway, I've narrowed it down to two photos, so will just leave them alone until some 'Tech support' comes home. Remembering what I've been told before switch everything off, unplug everything, step away from the computer. Go back twenty minutes later and try again. So I did, and left those two particular photos well alone this time. Huzzah, it worked.

It is a very quiet, still day here, no 'weather' at all, so I thought I would step outside and take a few photos - If I walk down our front steps (which you can just about see on the left) into the road, stand in front of our wall and look left, this is the view down our road:and if I look right: the road comes to a scruffy end, turns into a footpath which goes through various farmers fields, in some there are cows, in others, horses, but never bulls (phew) or sheep.

Did some more knitting of the scarf:It now measure 88cm.
I've also tried out some of the variegated threads I bought at the weekend on a couple of layers of old white cotton: Mmmm, I like the effect, I wonder what on earth I'm going to do with this now.......

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Not enough squares.......

Still working on the 'Paris'* squares' quilt.....
I sewed all the squares together, pressed all the seams. Went to look at the EQ6 version to see what sizes the borders need to be. Tsk, I've realised that I've completly missed out the sashing around each printed block! Sixteen teeny squares per block missing..... Oh well, the quilt will be slightly smaller than I first planned.
*Via Japan!

Also still knitting that scarf, yesterday a pot holder, today it's placemat length. The colour in this photo is truer to life than yesterdays, Although they were both taken in the same spot and at the same time of day. The only difference is I switched off the flash. Hmmmm, I'm learning a little about photographing textiles here, will have to experiment more I think, but that will have to wait for another day....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

With my thinking cap on.....

Arrggggghhhh. Good grief is that the time already? I've been here:

Trying to figure out the delightful little peoples quests. No instructions on what to do - you have to click on things to make them work. Sheesh, I've had to use my brain and ingenuity.

The BBC one asked me questions to get on to the next level. I haven't had to think about some of this stuff since I was at school*.......

I've really enjoyed working out all the little puzzles on Samorost1 though. Why don't you have a go and let me know what you think.

* A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away......

Must be time to knit.......

Unfortunately, I cannot follow a knitting pattern. Gah, all the counting and all the numbers just swim before my eyes. But I can do scarves!Here is a scarf I knitted a couple of years ago (using three slightly fluffy balls of wool,) thinking a four by four rib would be nice. It was, but the scarf was just a bit too short:-(
So this year I unravelled all the wool and re-knitted it in a moss stitch - huzzah, a good wearable length now.The colour in this photo is more realistic now too!
I started another scarf yesterday evening using some black fluffy wool, but with variegated flecks This one will probably be a gift for some poor unsuspecting soul......Mwahahahaha (they should just be grateful I cannot knit jumpers!)

To knit one scarf, measuring approximately 170cm long x 240cm wide. You will need a minimum of three 50gm balls (Double knit) yarn. One pair of either 4.5mm or 5mm knitting needles:

1) Cast on 45 stitches (it has to be an odd number for moss stitch)
2) Knit one, purl one, to the end of the row.
3) Turn scarf over and knit one, purl one, and just then keep going until you only have about three scarf width lengths of yarn left, this should give you just enough to cast off.
4) Sew in the two loose yarn ends and admire your finished scarf.

Here's what I did last night, while watching TV. Some programmes are better than others to do knitting or embroidering. Last night while 'University Challenge', 'Masterchef' & Ugly Betty were on, I could knit and keep half an eye on the telly. 'Life' (the new David Attenborough series) and 'Spirals' (French subtitled series, recorded from Sunday night) I need to pay close attention, so not many rows done. Still, I shall plod on and hopefully if I record my progress here, it will get finished this year!
My lovely neighbour Marjorie came round for coffee this morning and surprised me with some gloves she had knitted for me as a thank you gift: aren't they wonderful? I have looooong fingers (well, I am 6' tall, so it's to be expected) and 'normal' gloves never fit lengthwise on my fingers properly, so it's really nice to have a pair that do.Apparently some loooong hand knitted socks are on their way too - Mmmmmmmmm.

Saturday, 10 October 2009


I bought some goodies in Hobbycraft: Some variegated embroidery floss. Plastic floss winders. A pack of split rings. A remnant of just over a metre, of beaded 'pom poms' and finally two Fiskars 60mm rotary cutting blades for £1.99 each, on 'clearance'. I was slightly worried they wouldn't fit my rotary cutter, but they do - excellent. Just a shame they only had the two in stock, or I'd go back for more. Didn't think to look for other sizes while I was there. Doh!

I also bought ten metres of fusible buckram from Dunelm:This is what I use for my fabric postcards. Good grief, it's gone up from 59p per metre to 69p! That's one heck of a price hike. Still, it is good stuff.

On recommendation from someone on BQL, I also went into Boots and bought a two 'Natural Collection' mascaras and a clear nail varnish, all for £5. I've tried out all three and am very impressed. The mascara is easily as good as my normal far pricier Max Factor X-tra mascara - and with my short blond stumps I need all the help I can get. I hope it's easy to take off this evening though. Lets face it, clear nail varnish is clear nail varnish, so that's fine. I'd love to be one of those ladies who has her nails beautifully manicured every week and manages to keep a nice colour un-chipped for more than a day, but it isn't going to happen, so I generally stick with a clear varnish.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Paris squares

This quilt seemed like such a good idea when I designed it using EQ6........
but eleventy thousand tiny squares later, I'm not so sure.......
I seem to be forever cutting and sewing.......

Thinking how good all these 3/4" finished sized squares were going to look........
and it was all going so well.....
Ah. Nuts on toast! Erm, d'you think anyone will notice?

Oh alright then, I'll get my stitch unpicker.......

Saturday, 3 October 2009

It's a hard life for a cat.....

Lanky boy sits down for a cuppa - both cats are as thrilled as can be- they do love a good long lap!
We went to the Outlet centre in Swindon this morning and saw this trainmade because it was Jeans for Genes day yesterday.
It's been months since we were last went there for shopping, glad to see that the car parking charges are a much more reasonable £1 for up to 5 hours parking. Himself wanted some plain black chinos (rare as hens teeth it seems) and in Austin Reed we found them, hurrah. So he bought two pairs. We also saw some lovely things in the John Lewis Home outlet, but came away empty handed.