Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaping Lizards! It's Carolyn Forster's NEW Book!

Hoppy Leap Day! It is the 29th of February!  A day that only comes around once every 4 years and I have a very hoppy post for you!  ..I even got my own lizard to leap for joy so I could have a great blog post title!  (many thanks to DD2 for jumping around the garden in her dinosaur costume...and my apologies to the neighbours who must think I'm a bit nuts!)

I am so excited!  I am the last, but certainly not least, to share my review of Carolyn's new book Utility Quilting Simple Solutions for Quick Hand Quilting

It is with a spring in my step that I get to be part of Carolyn's book tour and can share with you this fantastic reference book.  This is one for the bookshelf that you will jump to over and over again for inspiration and techniques for getting your quilt tops quilted and put into use.

It is full of clear pictures and diagrams and easy to understand tips and tricks for all levels of quilters.  If you think you have seen it haven't until you've read Carolyn's book.

I've been quilting for over 18 years, across 2 countries and there were ideas in Carolyn's book I hadn't seen before including several methods for tying quilts..something we don't see too much of these days, but definitely a worthwhile technique.

Carolyn shares a great method for marking cables in borders, which I found very useful as I always forget how to draw cables and end up emptying the bookshelf trying to find a book on how to draw them so they will fit.  Now I won't have to go through that and only pull out one book!

There are a selection of patterns for quilts too.. some quick enough for those moments when hubby comes home from work and announces that the secretary is going on maternity leave at the end of the week and he'd like to give her a baby quilt as a present!  Has that happened to you?  It hasn't happened to me yet, but I've got the book if it ever does :o)

I love big stitch quilting!  I've used it many times on my projects and Carolyn's book has simply encouraged me to do more and experiment with other quilting designs and stitches too.  If you want to see more of her book click here.

Now for the best part that has me jumping for joy on leap day!

Carolyn is giving you the chance to win a copy of her book along with some other goodies
So hop to it !

Skip on over to Carolyn's blog before March 2nd for a chance to win your very own copy of Carolyn's Utility Quilting Book, some Valdani Cotton Pearl no12, a packet of Bohin Betweens needles size 5 and a bundle of Makower's latest fabric line!  Good Luck!

Until next time....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More Just Take 2 Blocks...

So far I'm keeping up with the Just Take 2 blocks and I'm all up to date.  These last 3 were a mixture of paper piecing, appliqué and some fiddly inset piecing which went remarkably well!..Never have I know to sew in 4 intersections and have them all turn out right the first time around!  Mark it in your calendars because that is never going to happen again!

I'm loving the blue and white combo and these blocks are all 9" finished.  Incidentally that is twice the size of a Dear Jane block and I can't help wonder what would happen if you sized up a Dear Jane block to 9"... that would make a nice size to work with.

Only a couple of days to wait for the next set of instructions!  Can't wait :o)

Oh and one more thing...make sure you pop back tomorrow.  It's leap day and there is something worth jumping up & down about :o)

Until next time....

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quilt tops and blocks and the such...

I couldn't stop at one....and I couldn't just make it with the normal size I went smaller...2" strips in fact!  What am I talking about? The Scrappy Bargello quilt of course.  I think Bonnie ought to put a warning with this pattern..."highly addictive, not likely that you can stop at one...just like eating chips!"

I made my quilt top smaller than she did and had 36 strips per drop and 6 drops across.  I will add a big border to make it larger, but currently it measures 54" square.  This would make a great picnic fact as I'm typing I'm thinking I might not put wadding in it and finish it like a coverlet....hmmm what do you think?

The scrappy bargello is a fab scrap buster and I thought I'd empty my 2" strip bin, but I didn't quite manage it...I swear those scraps multiply in the night!

My other sewing this past week included getting a few more blocks completed for the Just Takes 2 quilt.  That basket on the left was all paper pieced and I'm thrilled with then end result...the points all matchy matchy and all!

And lastly, I can't leave you without sharing the best Christmas present I got from my DD1.  You might recall the post when she started these socks in 2010 (it includes the link to the pattern) and the fact that these sock were for her...not me.

Well she changed her mind!  ..and they were wrapped up and put under the tree for me!

Oh in case you were wondering...this heel is done using the short-row method...again I have no real concept of what that really means...but I don't really care...I've got homemade socks!!

Until next time....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

112 in 2012 (#6)

Are you ready for the next set of pictures for the 112 in 2012 challenge?  This past Sunday was another glorious sunny day and we went for a wander at a local park...Coombe Abbey.

#18 On The Ground or Floor
This was taken after my DD2 made the suggestion to take the picture from this vantage point...amazing how a 9 year old can be a great source of inspiration!

#102 Vanishing Point
Coombe Abbey has so many photo opportunities.

#67 River Pond or Lake
They say the best camera to have is the camera in your bag. Glad I had my little point and shoot to catch this pic.

#42 Feathered
Does this feather friend looked bothered? Nah, I didn't think so chilled out!

Until next time....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quilting and Sewing Update

Time to share some sewing progress from the last week with you.

Looking through the blog archives it would seem these next two quilts were started in October 2010!  You may recall my original post with the link to the book by Lynne Edwards.  In a moment of madness I chose to work on two quilts at the same time and as a result have two very different quilts with the same blocks.

The first is all done in pinks and blues and is quite girlie.  It is all machine quilted using quilt-as-you-go method.  I have seamed up the back by hand and it just needs some borders, some final machine quilting, binding and a label and then it will be done.

The second quilt is all in homespuns and is mostly hand quilted using big stitch with size 12 perle.  Like the other it needs borders and binding, but it will also get a bath in some dye to antique it.  I have always wanted to try over-dyeing and this, I think, is a perfect chance to try it.  Don't worry I will blog all about it..even if it is a disaster! :o)  Here and here are a couple more posts about these quilts in the making.

Lastly I had to show you the latest dumpling bag I made...this time the larger size for our friend Miss B.  These little bags are so much fun to make!  Here's the link to the original pattern if you missed it the first time.

Until next time....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blogging Break = Half Term

Or is it half term = blogging break? Well which ever way you look at it I was gone for a week while the kids were home from school. I always think I'm going to have more time for things when they are home but it never quite works out that way!  I did get some sewing done and I've taken pictures which I will share with you as the week goes on.

We had a really good half term.  On Thursday I took the children to the Rugby Art Gallery.  There was a workshop running where you could either write a piece of writing or make a piece of art and a local artist would respond to it by again either making a piece of art to accompany your writing or write something to go with your art.  As my DD2 and her friend Master H are very interesting in all things arty I thought they would like the experience.

Both of them looked at all the pieces in the gallery and it was really interesting to hear them talk about each of the pieces.  I didn't expect them to engage so much and talk about what they liked and disliked about each piece of artwork.  In fact Master H was so interested, he took pictures (which I had to sign a waiver promising not to show on the internet!) so he could try his hand at his own version when he got home.

Once settled in the Art room each of them decided they would have a go at a little clay sculpture and then in turn a writer responded to each of the their pieces of work.

This was Master H's work...

and this is DD2 work.

Both had a wonderful time and I think would have liked longer to talk to the artists and writers.  What I found remarkable is that age didn't matter.  The artists were as appreciative of the children's work as you would be of any adult's and the voices of encouragement left both children inspired.  DD2 was brimming with ideas after we left and Master H's best comment was that it was nice to make something that wasn't made from cardboard (the regular material of choice).  My many thanks to the Rugby Artitst Group for a great event.


In other news,  a surprise arrived in the post the other week from the lovely Ann in France.

The parcel was wrapped in lovely tissue paper and bright pink pretty I almost didn't want to open it!

Along with the card, Ann included some very delicious chocolate, 5 pieces of lovely fabric and a kanzashi flower maker.  I have yet to try the flower maker, but I could see making these and adding them to bags as an extra embellishment.  Thanks Ann for the lovely gift.  It really brightened my day!

Lastly, I just have to touch on the subject of blogger and comments.  By now you might have read that blogger have changed the formatting of the captcha word verification and the image with the letters is quite cryptic.  I have in the past used the word verification to combat again spamming comments, but with the new system I have turned it off.  I feel the new system will discourage people from leaving comments and I rather have comments then not.  The other change I've implemented is I have removed the ability of anonymous comments as that should kerb the spammers, but I do realize that also may mean some of you can't comment.  I would say to you ...leave me a comment telling me if this affects you, but that won't if you can't comment you'll have to drop me an email....otherwise I'll assume that it works.

Until next time....

Thursday, February 09, 2012

112 in 2012 (#5)

Here are my next three entries for the 112 in 2012 challenge.  In my last post I told you about the weather and the need to pull the winter gear out of the cupboards to play in the snow.  DD1 has these wonderful mitts that just scream "Canada" and I thought they would be perfect for entry #36.

#36 Represent the title of a song in your image
Oh Canada....
(National Anthem)

For this next one I had no idea when I would catch someone taking a picture and be in the right place and the right time to catch it...but I didn't have to wait too long when DH was messing with the camera on the tablet.

#81 Shoot the Shooter
All of the shooter you can see are his thumbs on the edge of the tablet... Just the same I thought it was a neat effect and I'm thrilled with the results.

This next one is pretty straight forward...Starts with 'T'  Can't guess?  :o)
It's a love-apple of course!

#40 Something beginning with T

Until next time....

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


As many of you already know the UK saw its first and hopefully last significant snow of the season this past weekend.  As it happened, we were hosting a family party and with most of our guests travelling from The North we were keeping a close eye on the weather.  By 4 p.m. we were checking the webcams at the city hall in Stoke-on-Trent where our family had travelled from in the morning and realized very quickly that if they were going to make it home then they would have to leave sooner rather than later.  I honestly thought for a split second that I was going to have to find beds for 6 extra people, 2 children and a baby!!  Although the party ended earlier, we still had a good time and everyone got home safely.

By 10:30 p.m. this was the scene in my garden and as you can see the snow wasn't slowing down.
By morning everything had a wonderful blanket of snow and the whole thing felt very Canadian. Scarves, mitts and tuques (Canadian for winter hat) had to be pulled out of the cupboards to provide warmth before we could head out and make a snowman and clear the drive.

I bought this snow shovel back in October.  When I brought it home DH was sceptical whether we would every have the need for a snow shovel as snow in the UK used to be pretty rare.  Well, the way I saw it was that for the past 3 winters I have cleared the drive with a spade (don't laugh!! LOL) and I dreamed of the day I would find a proper snow shovel without having to import one from Canada.  I was so pleased to see it used and lets face it to be proved right that the £7 I spent was a sound investment.

After all that work, we retreated back inside for some warm drinks and a spot of crafting.  DD1 sat and knitted on another pair of socks..this time turning the heel the traditional way.  I have no idea what that really means, but it sounds impressive! :o)

Until next time....

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Maybe I'll stop at 3...

So many of you guessed I didn't stop at one house...they are just so darn cute!  :o)  And, in fact, I made a third.  With that one I tried a bit of machine sewing for the window and door part , but hand-pieced the roof and the trick inset pieces.

Using the machine for the straight seams actually worked quite well and the results were just as accurate as hand-piecing.  I did make sure to feed a leader piece before I fed the tiny pieces under the pressure foot so that the machine didn't gobble it up.

I must have a thing for little bits of sewing at the moment.  After several months, I have finally returned to quilting my Dear Jane blocks.  I have pieced 40 blocks and 30 of them are quilted so far.  I will use quilt-as-you-go (great tutorial by Andrea) to assemble them and that will act as sashing.  I haven't decided how many I'm going to make...guess it depends on when I get tired of making little blocks :o)

Until next time....

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Just Take 2 Update...

I'm all up to date with my Just Take 2 blocks and ready for the next bunch.  These are such fun to put together and are very much like the red blocks I did last year.  AND before you I haven't done anything with them yet :o)  I have some other red and white blocks that I would like to add to them and  I just need to sort out how they can all go together.

The assembly of these blocks was quite painless...The first 2 from left to right were paper pieced while the last was traditionally pieced.

I'm thrilled how well this schoolhouse block (below) went together...eventually!  I don't know how I did it, but the original templates I printed were the wrong size.  I'm sure I ticked the box for actual size, but somehow they all came out wrong.  I reprinted them and checked the box "choose paper source by PDF page size" and that seem to fix the problem.  It shouldn't have had any effect, but second time round the templates were the right size and the construction of the block went smoothly.

It was a mixture of rotary cutting and freezer paper templates which were ironed to the wrong side of the fabric and stayed in place while you sewed as to mark the pivot point for the Y seams.  This was a very effective method of piecing these odd shaped pieces and all my points ended up in the right place...oh and the block measures right and is flat! LOL  I'll never be so lucky again.

Until next time....

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

112 in 2012 (#4)

I've been lucky enough to see this orchid I was given for my birthday last summer grow a second spike and flower for the second time.  It is blooming marvellous!

..and the secret to this success, well I did like you told me and ignored it!

This is my
#20 Wild Plant or Flower
entry for 112 in 2012

Until next time....