Friday, 4 October 2019

Clickity Clack, Wheels On The Track

Clickity clack, lickity spit, I love words that are onomata    onomato  words that mean what they sound. Onomatopoeic. You know what I mean. I love clickity clack, wheels on the track. Not only does it sound like a train  but it sounds like my knitting needles as I knit. Eh! Who am I kidding! I can knit quickly but not that quickly. It has been a while since I have done a knitting post. If knitting is not your ball, (pun) that's ok. Just scroll on by this time.

Now, what has been on my needles? I may have mentioned we just got a new little granddaughter. She is absolutely and lives in USA, but the world is a smaller place. We know we will see lots of her over the coming years. With her and my grandson living in different countries, I now can safely fall into the granny knitting trap. I can knit them matching sweaters,
safe in the knowledge they will not look like the Von Trapp family,  in matching outfits.


 This makes sense, grannies like to do this, primarily. My mother in law did. When knitting one garment, it is as easy to knit 2. These days you don't go into the wool shop and flick through the big folders of patterns all in their plastic sleeves. These days, you go on to the computer, ravelry is my site of choice. There you flick through the big online folders of patterns and make your choice. Patterns are much more designed these days, creative and inventive and that is reflected in the cost rightly charged by their designers. If a pattern is costing lots of £s, you want to get your money's worth. With that in mind I knit two "wee wowligans" designed by Kate Davies Studio Designs.

  I had knit one of these previously for my grandson and much as the alpaca grew and stretched with him, my son eventually boil washed it. It now fits on his teddy. Time for a new one. 

I used drops merino for both. A bright turquoise blue for my grandson, and mustard for my granddaughter. He got real buttons for the owls' eyes, sign of being a big boy now. And boy did it take a lot of buttons. She got embroidered eyes, which to be honest, were also much quicker and easier to do.

I have been knitting a striped sweater for myself. Plain red and red fleck alternatively. This is a sweater called Confetti by Veera Valimaki, accessible on Ravelry. My online friend Sue and I are going on a knitting retreat in November and we are knitting one each. That's right, a knitting retreat. It is in a convent on our north coast, 20 like minded knitters all knitting and knattering. I am so looking forward to this, not least to meeting Sue "in real life". As you can see, on a Saturday night I match my knitting to my clothes, my surroundings, and my wine! Oh, that's the white wine.

The red wine followed the next night.

What else? I have finished my Amos sweater, knitted in Shibui knits yarn bought in Philadelphia. This was knit holding two yarns together. The yarns are made from washed paper, I kid you not, silk and cotton. I have worn it and its very comfortable.

I am nearly finished a shawl. Yes, another shawl. This one is called Floating and is shawl no 2 in the Shawl Society designed by Curious Handmade. I only have about 14 rows to finish. When I say 14 rows, there are about 500 stitches in each row, so 14 rows is actually about 20%. Even so, the knitting is relaxing. I am looking forward to finishing this.

 I chose my yarn to remind me of the seaside at Newcastle, Co Down, where I first learned to float in the sea. No doubt screaming and splashing a lot as I did.

I have my yarn all set up for my next shawl. This is called Rockpool, again from this series. This time I have gone for greens and greys.

 Not all rockpools are idyllic. I thought of the green slimy murky rock pools in Groomsport, again in Co Down.

This was my husband's family destination of choice, all on a bus ride from home. Our kids loved day trips there too. I am looking forward to knitting this one.

Anything else? Yes. I am nearly finished a grey sweater for me. Only the neckline to finish and I can add it to the wardrobe. I have the sweetest buttons for this, need to get cracking on.

At least it has moved on from its project bag. Oh no, its still in there.

Another? Yes. I have been knitting a 30 year old sweater for my husband. Not that the sweater has taken 30 years, more that 30 years ago I knit him a sweater he loved. It was cream and a Guernsey style. He loved it.

 This year he asked me if I would knit him another, just the same only blue. I searched out the same pattern book on ebay and ordered it. I ordered the same Shetland yarn as before, only blue, and started knitting. Sez he, Helen, I don't think that's the same jumper. Of course it is I said. No its not. Yes it is. No its not. Eventually the photo album was produced. and its not the same jumper at all. Ooops. The jumper I am knitting now is one I intended to knit him, but never got around to.

Same yarn. Yes
Same pattern. No
Same colour. No
Well, one out of 3 isn't bad for a repeat sweater!

And lastly, some Christmas socks just to get you in the mood. The mood for sitting on the sofa on a cold night, the fire lit,  watching a move, with your loved ones, and drinking hot chocolate. I have this idea that there is a box of Christmas socks on the hearth for all the family. I don't know how my ever growing family feels about communal festive socks, but I love the idea. We did it last year, worked well with just me, him and the daughter with different size feet.

The socks were knit with these funny trapezoid needles, addicrasytrio needles. Three of them, and they have re invented the wheel. I love them.

Now, have I encouraged you to pick up your needles? Or have you left thinking, that girl needs a hobby!

Helen x

Wednesday, 18 September 2019


Is it spring? For the purposes of this blog post it is, or maybe I am getting ahead for Christmas. I have had this charm pack of fabric for quite a while. It is Ambleside by Moda fabrics. A nice light spring time fabric, little ditsy gentle flowers. Don't be misled by that. Spring flowers look teeny tiny and fragile but when you think of it  ..... they survive the cold, the wet, the freezing. These little flowers aren't cutsey at all, they are really little feisty characters, battening down the hatches.

Ambleside is a village in the Lake District, England. I love the Lake District, we used to drop off there for a few days on our way to Oxford. The scenery is spectacular, mountains, fells (small mountains) and lakes. It is the sort of place that makes you come over all poetic and creative, which is funny enough, as lots of poets hailed from those parts. William Wordsworth didn't live in Ambleside, but near enough. It is impossible to drive through the area and not find yourself dredging up long forgotten snatches of poetry from The Prelude.

"And as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
went heaving through the water like a swan
when, from behind that craggy steep till then
the horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
as if with voluntary power instinct,
upreared his head"

I can't claim to have remembered it all, but Miss Lester, my old English teacher should be proud of me. When I am old, sitting in my armchair, I shall be able to recite reams of poetry but not know what I had for breakfast!

Anyhows,  I have had this charm pack for a while. In fact, I was sure I had two of them. After I pulled the house apart, a few times, I remember giving it away. Somebody was short some squares, and what goes around comes around, so I sent them mine. Always the way! My scrapbooking tutor always says, its never lost what a friend gains. I just wish I had held on to a few!

I needed something easy to get back into the quilting after the last few finishes. This fits the bill. I pulled out a few similar fabrics and we managed ok. The blocks are 5" and I am aiming for about a  40" width quilt. A small lap quilt.

I thought this spot would make a gentle border. I measured and it was all A ok. We went to Philadelphia for a week, and on return, I headed for the border, and cut it evenly in 4 straight lines. A nagging feeling was nudging me in the back. Yes, the fabric was double length. I had needed to cut it in 2 straight lines. Grrrr. I am now on the hunt for a contrasting or toning fabric to unite the two matching strips of border. Measure twice. Cut once.

I have some nice peach kona, but it is not a length cut, much of my kona fabric is fq rather than width of fabric. I am going to leave it for a little and see what springs to mind. Apologies, I don't seem to have taken any photos of the flimsy to this point! That shows I have been below par and muddleheaded. I can substitute the black and white photo I took to check the balance.

now, wasn't that exciting!

I was having such a good hoke, looking for fabric in the deep depths of stash, and I found a similar charm pack of Christmas fabrics.

 This was a gift, I am sorry I can't remember who from, but thank you. It is not quite a full pack, so again a little additional fabric is needed. I have a William Morris tonal charm pack which actually tones. But ... if I borrow from it, the whole cycle starts again. I think these cheeky gnomes work with the soft colours too. It was fun pairing these off completely at random. For not it will sit too, and hopefully I'll have a Christmas quilt too.

I apologise if I didn't reply to your comment on my last blog post, or indeed haven't been to visit you recently. I have been a bit under the weather the last couple of weeks. The old breathing has been a bit erratic the last few weeks, and as we all know, breathing is pretty essential. A lot of sleeping, a lot of sleeping, a fair bit of tv and a course of steroids and I am well on the mend. That's why this charm pack sewing just fit the bill.

Whatever you are doing these days, I hope you are well, and enjoying your crafting.

Helen x

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Bags and Baskets

I realised today I had forgotten to blog about some recent makes, my baskets and bags. Away back in July I took a quilt to photo at my sister's caravan. Sorry rephrase that, I went to visit my sister and took a quilt with me, or so she thinks! I had been promising her some 1 hour baskets for her caravan for an age, maybe about 3 years or so. Creativity and genius move slowly in this house. I had some VW campervan fabric I thought would be perfect. I couldn't find it, quelle surprise. I found a couple of meters of 1950s bathing belles and gave her the choice, via FB of the belles or some cute pigs. We have an affinity with pigs, our father managed a pig factory and so we have a weird fondness. Weird because it was a pig processing factory, not a cute piggy farm. Anyhows, I didn't hear back within 5 minutes, so I started the bathing belles.

I made these two baskets and a drawstring bag. The baskets and bag are lined with a bright yellow self spot. Bright and jolly as is my sister.

I had originally pulled out this blue flower to use. I have had this blue flower for literally 20 years, it was a sale purchase. It goes with nothing though, and it didn't do anything here either. The yellow makes my heart sing it was the right choice.

Of course you know what is coming next. I had a look at my FB page. How many times a day are adults reckoned to check their social media? A gross underestimate I think! Of course, I saw she would prefer the pigs. It was tempting to say, well you have got the bathing belles, but I have oldest child syndrome. A syndrome (invented by me) that means you always feel responsible for your siblings. The girl wants a pig basket, a pig basket she will get. A pig basket and a pig drawstring bag.

At this stage my husband arrived home, and suggested I keep the bathing belles. They are so appropriate to a seaside caravan I couldn't keep them. I still have another meter or so I think if I feel the need. She was delighted with them, and needless to say, the other day I found the camper van fabric. How many project bags do you think she needs?

Speaking of my sister and project bags. Do you remember a while ago I had made some Alice in Wonder bags and baskets for myself and my daughter, my sister and my niece? Well, I made us another bag each. This was back the end of June. I forgot to blog these too. This time I got smart. I waited until she visited me, and got her to do the threading for me. My niece tells me proudly she uses hers all the time.

Something else I made, back the end of June, were two bread bags. I have been trying hard to live a more sustainable lifestyle and cut down on plastics. My husband is on board too now and we have been making good headway. My dad would say, there she goes, another bandwagon to jump on. Give her a crusade and she'll follow it. Well, dad, yes and yes, but I always did feel this way. Even in my teens I wanted to join Greenpeace but they were a little too political for quiet timid me. We use the supermarket very little now. We have made a real effort with a bit of time find we use the butcher (Allister), the baker (Alan) and if we had a need of a candlestick maker, we would use him too. We do have fruit and veg men, Kieran and his brother. And of course, Andy the vinyl man. How could we forget Andy the vinyl man. I have been using gauze knitting yarn bags from (they post the yarn out in these) for the fruit and veg. I thought the bread needed sole purpose bags, and made these two drawstring bags.

I have lots of friends. Like most women, I have life long friends, work friends, real friends and imaginary friends. Don't knock the imaginary friends. Most little girls have them, or was it just me? A number of years ago I was warning my daughter about friends in her computer, now I have friends in my phone. Life come full circle. My friends Sandra from was meeting our friend Sue from instagram in England during Sandra's holiday there. I would have loved to have joined them but sent them a little something instead. I had bought a vintage Ulster linen tablecloth in a charity shop a while back. I hate to think of these things going to landfill, so I rescued it. I was on a scrapbooking weekend and one of them told me it was a sin to cut it up, but it is not. It is repurposing and recycling, giving it a new lease of life. I have no idea if this was hand done or not, it is certainly very neat.

 I made Sandra and Sue a drawstring project bag each, again using Sotak's pattern which explains it so simply. The embroidery could look old fashioned. Let's be frank, it is brown embroidered flowers. I went back to a yellow lining, this lifted the colours.

 I backed both bags in some Liberty print. Both were quite traditional prints and colours, but they just went with the front. I used some vintage yellow ribbon for the drawstring. I will make myself one as well.

Before I had the chance to make myself one I won a drawstring bag in an instagram competition from Sherry Iris. Sherry makes the most exquisite linen drawstring bags, with her own embroidery designs on the front. I have always loved them. Sherry said she enjoyed this online community so much, she wanted to share the joy.

 And full of joy I was, she included an embroidery hoop for working, and lots of embroidery bits and pieces.

I have a wont to do some embroidery, to have a footer at something. A new thing to start? No, not really, just a revival of an old hobby.  Speaking of old, I dug out my mother's embroidery book. It has such exciting things as embroidery for the bachelor girl, knitted knickers, I kid you not. And of course embroidered knickers for the girl who is presumably not a bachelor girl. I always assumed this book to be my mother's from new, she was gifted by her mother or an aunt, I am sorry I can't remember. The book turns out to be printed in 1935, my mother was born in 1931, do I presume it was a loved book which was passed to her. It always lived in a presentation box from the publisher, in our glass fronted bookcase. The smell of smoke was so intense on the box, it went out pretty quickly in arrival in my house, but it lives in my glass fronted dresser. I doubt I will ever make something from it, a knitted swimsuit anybody? But, I will pass it to my daughter.

And the party in the mail box continued, there was a reassuring plop in the hall a few days later, and there was another surprise. Sue had sent me a beautiful project bag. I love this, it is zipped and big enough to hold a small sweater or shawl. At the minute it is holding my red and red striped sweater. I love it when my knitting coordinates with my project bag! The bag has a really cool cork fabric base.
Sue very generously shared some of her stash of  Liberty fabric with me. Some was fabric she had and some was fabric she won in a recent giveaway. This is like gold dust, these pieces of Liberty. I will in due course cut them all up in little pieces then sew them together again. I am indeed a pig in clover.
I don't think I need to make own bag from my table cloth but I think I will anyway. It is fun to have bags to chose from. Happy or sad, thoughtful or full of the joys, there is a bag for every occasion. So much more pleasurable than an old supermarket bag. Now its time to get back to quilt making.
Helen x

Saturday, 17 August 2019

How Many Times Can One Quilt Be Finished?

Today's post was going to be an update on some bags I had been making, just for fun, I seem to be in a project making mode. Then I saw that Yvonne quiltingjetgirl had a similar blog post. I really like and admire Yvonne, her sewing is brilliant and her photos, often taken by her talented husband are out of this world. My iPhone snaps pale in comparison. So, that is for next week. This week ladies and gentlemen, I shall unveil a finish to you.


No, it is not the finish I showed you last time, this is the finish more finished. You may remember I showed my economy square quilt for my grandson. The quilting was rather basic, done and dusted but rather unimaginative. He was coming for a visit (along with his parents) and I wanted a finish. Then I decided it needed finished properly, so the quilting began.

I left the centre picture square unquilted. I stitched around the outside of the square, in the triangles, then stitched an additional 4 lines across the width of the triangle, then outlined the triangle. I repeated this on all 4 sides. This inner triangle was patterned fabric.

I moved onto the outer triangles, the plain kona fabric. Here I again outlined the triangle then stitched three vertical lines from the centre of the bottom, one at 90 and then 45 and 135 degrees. I am sure there are proper mathematical names for all these lines and angles, but I can't remember and can't be bothered looking them up. Sorry Dad, he was an accountant and loved triangles and angles and degrees. Hypotoneuse (?) and obtuse come to mind, or maybe obtuse is just me! You know what, I will end up googling this to satisfy me.

I repeated this through each square. Lots of shoulder tensing and sore muscles. Do people do this for every single quilt? Yes, I guess they do. Of course, because I never have any plan, I see all the things at the end. If I had been more accurate in my quilting, all those outer triangle angles would have lined up nicely. For someone with OCD about matchy matchy that would be the road paved to hell. Luckily for me, I am happy with an organic look, but I did think, it would be nice if all those lines lined up together at the end.

One thing I do wish, I wish I wish I wish I hadn't done the original quilting in the ditch lines. It doesn't disappear into the quilt as much as I had hoped it would. It looks rather sloppy and I either should have taken more care when doing it, or preferably, not done it all. I did toy with the idea of unpicking it all, but that way madness lies.

 Not only would it take forever, but there is a distinct chance there might end up lots of rows of little needle holes. And that would not do at all. In fact I am working on another secret project where such a thing happened around the neckline, and it wouldn't do at all, at all. Its not that the project itself is secret, it is just it is for an event. The event isn't secret either. Well, I will explain all in the end.

I tried as much as possible to blend the thread with the fabric. I wanted more quilting but not to stand out much. Hence the quilting is mostly done with those moon threads, you know, the polyester threads that come in every colour of the rainbow. On the rare occasion when I have had either a gutermann or aurifil quilting thread that tied in, I can see it is much superior.

The quilt is completely finished now. I can honestly say that, however it isn't handed over. My husband goes through stages with my quilting . It is like the seven ages of man. It goes as follows:

What are you doing now?
Who is that for?
Where do you think you are going to put that?
Haven't we enough quilts about the house?
You do know I really like that?
Why do you always give the good stuff away?
Why can't we keep it ourselves?

This quilt though is for our very own grandson. I am more than happy to give this to him. I did however have another quilt for him too. The Through The Window quilt, which was possibly more of a younger child quilt. This was slightly smaller and so easier to transport and his mum had liked both of them. The grandson himself had liked them both too, and then pointed at the economy square quilt, but he may have been guided by me. Just to keep life interesting for him, I took the other one over to England in my hand luggage.

He will get this one too. But I hear a rumour that there might be a few days away next year en famille to celebrate my coming of age and hopefully getting a free bus pass. This surprise, will, I believe, involve a few days in a house at the coast and this quilt be perfect then for picnics on the grass in the sunshine or more likely  stories and snuggles in the rain.

As I draped this quilt, another quilt, over the back of my finished quilt draping chair in the sun room I had a fond memory. I have two quilt draping chairs, one in my sewing room for nearly finished quilts and then this help yourself to a quilt dining chair. Last summer we had a post wedding party here for my American daughter in law and her family. My husband tidied up and put them all away. When the daughter in law came into the  house with some of her bridesmaids, she said, "oh, where have all the quilts gone? I told my friends how you always have a pile of lovely colourful quilts over the chair". Off rushed the husband to put back the quilts, whilst I smiled, not too smugly I hope. I just took this photo, and the joy of summer in the UK, sunshine to torrential rain with 5 minutes.

At this stage, I think I now have finished up 4 quilts this year. I have my huge Kaffe to quilt, but I think it is time to dig out some of those deep buried works in progress and have a look. I have a request for two new garden quilts. The current garden quilts migrated to the living room last summer and never returned to the garden. Send in a search party if I don't return! And I remember something about a quilt with pigs on it too.

Leaving you with a last photo. Remember when everybody used to go a rolled up quilt photo? I loved to see the binding. Here' my rolled up photo, the quilt with Felix the hare, bought when the grandson was born.

Helen x
linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Finished Or Not Friday

Monday, 29 July 2019

Oh The Irony

Oh the irony of it at all. Two weeks ago I had  a FINISH. The same week as bloggers all around the world were linking up their finishes in the Finish A Long. Not me, I hadn't signed up for last quarter. I have signed up for this quarter, in my last post, but this quilt sort of fell between the goalposts so to speak.

Anyhow, I have a finish, or what seemed to be an interim  finish. My son, daughter in law and grandson were over for a visit. I gave them the choice between two quilts for my grandson. The first was made for him, blocks from a bee I was in when he was born. My What's Out the Window quilt, backed with planets fabric. Not all of the blocks have children's fabric, it is still bright and jolly.

I had also been making this economy square quilt from charm squares of kokka fabric, bought for me as a year's subscription from the Eternal Maker by my daughter in law. I started making this before he was born, but gradually began to realise it would make the perfect I spy or story book quilt. So, there was a mad spurt to finish this so he could choose.

Really, at 2 years old, he doesn't really understand the history of them both, but he did like them both. If this was a Referendum vote on Brexit, he gravitated 52% towards the story quilt. He will ultimately get them both, but for now, it is the story quilt.

I promised to finish the quilting and deliver it next visit. I just did straight line, not in the ditch quilting, in what seemed a neutral aurifil. Not so straight at times, and not so neutral in the darker toned blocks! Over a public holiday, we were heading to visit my sister in her caravan. We were driving "the scenic route" so took the quilt for an outing.

We took the photos at the Spelga Dam reservoir in the Mourne Mountains. Not quite "where the Mountains  of  Mourne sweep down to the sea" (Percy French 1896 song beloved of ex pat Irish people everywhere), but near enough. I don't want to link to you tube, in case of copywrite of a singer, but go there and listen. Lovely.  I love Spelga Dam. It is not far from where I grew up in a nearby town. We often drove through the mountains, sometimes a destination and walk, not hike, in itself, sometimes en route to the seaside. For a child, there is something exciting about Spelga Dam. I still don't understand it but a parked car, with its handbrake off, appears to run backwards up the hill. It is some sort of freaky physics thing. No idea, but it is fun. And last summer, the summer was hot, the submerged buildings under the reservoir all reappeared. People were queuing up cross the hidden roads! I have linked to a news report, hoping this works.

I hope you enjoy these photos, and attempt at a video!

 How do these vloggers do it?

I particularly love the granite walls particular to the Mournes. It is a real skill for the stone masons to repair the walls. It really is a patchwork of green fields and granite walls. Also particular to the Mournes area, are pointed gate posts. This was so the faeries couldn't sit on the gate post and magic your cows. They went to annoy the cows of another farmer instead. As kids we loved these stories, and always watched for faeries, but never ever saw one, no  matter what my brother said.

After we came home, we looked again at the quilt. My husband suggested a bit more quilting to hold it together for all the rough and tumble it will hopefully go through. And so it started. The quilting is a blog post in itself. Let's just say, the handover is imminent and the clock is ticking! As always, a bit more quilting takes a lot more time than anticipated. I always did work well to a challenge!

Helen x
linking up with Beth Cooking Up Quilts

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Finish Along "I will finish these" 2019, 3rd qtr

Oh my, two weeks since I last blogged. And what have we been up to? A weeks visit from our English grandson, a whirlwind in our presence. Just coming two, he is full of that never ending energy, climbing, swinging from door handles, crawling under over and through. I had forgotten just how full on a two year old is. And then we had more excitement, we have a granddaughter now in USA. That's the thing about love, you think the grandson has all your love, and he has, and then all of a sudden the love expands to take in another little bundle. Mother and baby, and dad, doing well, and now I can embroider the details on my quilt label.

And this brings us round to the Finish A Long, 3rd qtr for 2019. I missed the sign up for last quarter, a shame as I had quite a few finishes! I am sure I will be able to rustle up a few this time too. Here goes:

1  Kaffe Fossett quilt.  Privately and secretly and under my breath known at times as the Kaffe F****it quilt. I do love it really. It is basted, and all ready to start quilting.

2 Ambleside quilt. This may just look like a charm pack. It is a charm pack, with some added fabrics. It is however planned to be a quilty present for a good friend. I was sure I had two charm packs, but I can only find one. We will manage, we always do.

3 Fire burst quilt. The binding just needs to go on my Fireburst quilt, from a quilt a long with Tish.

4 Kingfisher quilt. I love this, Liberty fabric EPP on kona brights. I would love to finish this and get to use it.
5 Liberty EPP. My longstanding project. I can't finish this! When I finish this, my work here is done. I do love it and enjoy just looking at it. It has its own straw basket.
6 Mr C's Guernsey. This brings us into the knitting. I thought this was the jumper I knit my husband 30 odd years ago. He was right, it isn't the same jumper! It is a second jumper I intended to knit him. Ho hum. I am nearly but not quite up to the armhole division on the body, and I have a half of a sleeve done.  The autumn, September would be better is my deadline for a finish on this.
7 Amos Sweater. For me. Only one short sleeve to finish and the sewing up and neckline. I have run out of one of the two yarns used, so some creative work needed on the sleeves. Nearly finished.

8 Breton Sweater. For me. I will run out of yarn for this too. The yarn was bought 3 years ago for a poncho. I have 3 ponchos. How many ponchos can one woman wear. Four is too many! So, I am knitting a sweater, but have 8 skeins and not 10. Watch this space.

9 Floozy Cardigan. For me. As yet theoretically not begun, but half way done in my head. 

10 Yet another project bag. Some nice pink linen bought in a charity shop, large napkin sized, currently sewn along one side to a white linen napkin. Unlike ponchos, I can never have enough project bags.

11 Christmas cottage and gnomes. Don't laugh. Please. You can't say anymore than my husband has.

Well, I could add more, but I think this is enough to be going on with.

Helen x
linking up with Sarah Sew of Course and Finish A Long