Sunday, 22 October 2017

Shoppiing is Good for Me, the Economy and Me

Some weeks we just feel like buying stuff, or maybe some weeks it is just all stuff comes together. If you enjoy shopping vicariously, then this is the blog post for you.

Last post I was heading off to the hairdressers and hoping to pick up a little fabric en route. Least said soonest mended about the hair. Never tell a colourist you fancy a change. Now dark blonde rather than light blonde and I hate it. It's not me. It is all to stop the grey, I would rather have the grey! Strange thing is most people, including my sons, haven't noticed ... or maybe they were just being polite.

Anyhow, I sort of got my fabric. I was looking for the skull candy fabric I knew the Paragon stocked and had been waiting to buy.  Daft of me to leave it too near Halloween. The small neat skull candys I wanted were sold out. The one I bought is ok, the skulls are bigger and generally more girly. I don't remember the other fabric having bows in the hair. Back to hair again.

I bought a couple of metres. I think it will make a good backing for my Bubbles quilt.

Next up I spotted some universe/planet fabric. This was a lucky find. It was on my list too, but a dearer version I had spotted elsewhere. I bought 1.5m of this.

This will hopefully make part of a pieced backing for my Quatrefoil Quilt, my Beeabee2017 quilt. I think I will call this "what do you see through the quatrefoil window today" quilt, as a nod to Playschool. How cool it would have been if the presenter Brian Cant had said "what do we see through the quatrefoil window?" rather than the square, round or arched window. This will be for my little grandson.

Next up is something for me. For meeeeee. The last while I have been spotting the Skye Wrap in instragram land. I love the flow of it and it looks incredibly comfortable. It also looks like something my limited dressmaking skills could manage. I ordered the instructions from and the lovely mustard wool blend from them also. And the coconut buttons ... I could look at them all day.

I didn't order  the lining fabric for my #skyewrap at the same time. I knew I was going to London last week and there would be the opportunity to buy some Liberty fabric. I had actually chosen the fabric on my last outing to Shaukat (home of cheaper Liberty fabric), but had waited until I ordered the mustard wool. This time, I went all around the shop and the fabric I chose was still the same as last time. Go with your instincts folks. A 1.5m cut soon went into my handbag. I think the security man searching the bags at the Chelsea v Roma match was mildly surprised to see the wad of fabric in my hand bag.

 This will go on the long finger for a while. My crafty daughter in law fancied this too, so we are going to collaborate and make one each.

And that was all my purchases. Except, I was still feeling a bit, well, meh. Just not feeling my usual perky self. I spotted Judith's red robin cushion kit in instagram, and knowing I would see her at Beeblessed2 on Saturday, well ....... I must admit the packaging is lovely. Never mind the contents! I love the box. I will be reusing that come Christmas. I love robins and my much loved Uncle Robin passed away this summer. I will look at my robin cushion and smile. Or I will when I make it. Looking at the contents, the floral fabric is sort of similar to my Liberty fabric .... I have a plan.

One last little thing that snuck through the door the other day was a skein of Frostbite from Stranded Dyeworks. I love the icy blue tones of this merino/nylon sock mix, I have already cast this on to be a pair of Christmas socks.  Amy Florence's yarn sells out very quickly. Her shop was updated whilst I was at the rugby, there was me in the ladies, trying to get peace to order my yarn online! My friend nearly came looking for me, she wondered what was taking me so long.

That is all my purchases for this week. This next week is coming and the unfortunately the only dedicated quilting store in Belfast is closing due to retirement. Everything is 40% off. I hear my name being called.

Helen. x
linking up with Molli Sparkles and Sunday Stash

Friday, 13 October 2017

I Am So Much More Than A Hounddog!

The quilt is finished, the 240" of hand stitched binding are slip stitched, all in one sweep I might add. The ends are all buried and I am pleased to say #houndstoothquilt designed by, aka my #hounddog or #youaintnothingbutahounddog quilt is ready to meet its public.

The weather forecast was dreadful, a huge band of rain just crossing over Belfast and the right hand side of N Ireland, all day today. Apparently this is the prelude to the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia sweeping our way Monday. How nice of our friends in the USA to share their weather. Honestly, we don't want it. Anyhow, the forecast was for rain, but we are a hardy tribe. As we arrived a little before our friends in Hillsborough Forest, we decided to take our photos first.

First we headed up towards Hillsborough Fort, the fort was built over 700 years ago, 1630 to be precise, built on the sight of an old clan McGuinness stronghold. We had fun with my husband trying to stop the quilt blowing away whilst I tried to snap photos, all of course, not showing any part of him, being publicity shy.

We hung the quilt over the wall surrounding the ramparts. In the background is the steeple for the Church of Ireland which is very quaint, and indeed used by the Queen when she stays in her royal palace, just across from the Fort.

Then we saw the tower, it was too much to resist, a Rapunzel shot. Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your quilt!

Then over to the square tower of the fort for some photos.

In the background of this, you can spot the roof of Hillsborough Castle, the royal palace.
We headed then down to the lake for another photo opportunity. The wind had got up rather and there was a danger of the quilt blowing across the lake. Not a good idea. What with trying to get a photo of the lake in the background, the quilt all front on, and no parts of the husband, it was all a bit of a faff.

So, next we headed to the wee bridge and the fishing sign. I love this sign. I have a strong affection for this sign. I used to bring my children here during the school holidays for walks.

 We used to meet Granda here for walks, feed the ducks. The fly fishing sign always caused great merriment. Who knew fish could fly? Well they can! Who knew flies could fish?

Finally we met up with the friends, who all dutifully admired said quilt. We went for a walk round the lake ending up in the Vintage Tea Rooms for coffee and scones. The rain only started when we started the drive home.

And what's up for the rest of the weekend? Well ....... tomorrow I/we are making 11 floral table centre arrangements for a Boys Brigade Reunion Dinner. Luckily I brought my handy stitch snips in my  bag and gathered up some seed heads and ferns for the pots. The friends brought some sedums and hydrangea heads from their gardens. The oasis are steeping in the mop bucket. Glad to see my mop bucket serves some useful purpose!

Finish one challenge and begin another! That is the way to live life. Next up to finish is my blue Portfolio scarf and the I Am Forever Blowing Bubbles quilt and of course my blocks for Beeabee2017 for Sue.

Helen x
linking up with Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday, this week hosted by Janda Bend

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Woof Woof

Woof! Woof! Can you hear him now? Barking? The Houndstooth quilt, (quilt design by is as near a finish as makes no odds. Today I drank copious amounts of coffee, looked outside at the rain, and hand stitched down 240" of black and white spot binding. Mr Pointer, the first finger on my right hand knows every stitch! It is actually throbbing. I am hoping there is no fussy cutting in Scrapbooking tonight. I'll make the tea!

I say it is nearly a finish as I have to just "dicky it up" as our Scrapbooking Tutor  says. Sew in the loose ends. Unpick the quilting lines that were abandoned as they were too un straight for my straightish quilting.
Ta Daah!

I am really happy with the black and white spot binding. I like to use this Rose and Hubble spot for the binding on most of my quilts. It is bright, happy and cheerful. Even in brown. I went with the black as I didn't have enough grey and the purple was a no no for me. The purple would have gone well with the quilt, but purple and white spot is rather bitter sweet for me. When my mum was ill, I bought my little sister a purple midi skirt, with white polka dots and a frill at the bottom. It was in the sale and cost me 75p. When my sister twirled and swirled about the hospital room I could see my mum was delighted to see her enjoy herself, and glad that I was being responsible. Bitter sweet for me as I say. My sister remembers that skirt fondly, it was her twirly skirt. Before we get too maudlin here, I will tell you what she wore it with .... brown school shoes, bright yellow bri nylon knee socks and a big chunky jumper! She always did have a sartorial dress sense, did my sister. And .... who says sewing and indeed blogging can't be theurapeutic! It always amazes me how a scrap of fabric or a smell brings back so many memories.

I am also very pleased with the backing. We went with Art Gallery Hello Bear Buck Forest, from Simply Solids I think from my memory. It is so right and the burgundy fabric first chosen would have been so wrong. I am really pleased with my join in the back of the fabric. As Eric Wise would say about his hairpiece,  "can you see the join?"

Now some stats. I used Kona cotton, all purchased from The Village Haberdashery over a period of time. I used silver, iron, titanium, shale, pewter, steel for the greys. I used magenta and mulberry for the purples. (mulberry as we love Mulberry handbags in this house). And of course Kona white as a background.  I also bought a very dark grey for the centre, (can't remember the name) but my daughter felt it was a bit too intense. I haven't yet washed and tumbled the quilt, but it is about 70" square at the minute. 10 blocks by 10 blocks.

 These were slightly different shades of grey that Judith used in her design, we wanted a lighter colour base. Judith also went with red, we went with purple to tie in with a purple toned artwork in my daughter's room. Her curtains have a zig zag in grey, so the quilt will be perfect without being too matchy matchy.

I have tomorrow to finish the loose ends or do the dicky up. Tomorrow morning anyway, tomorrow afternoon I get my hair done. When someone tells you it is great, the colour is well down your hair to be a natural grey, you know it is time to ring the hairdresser on speed dial. The plus is my hairdresser is near the shop where I am hoping to buy some skull candy fabric to back my I Am Forever Blowing Bubbles quilt.

So, all being well, the quilt will be a finish by Friday. All we need then is the weather to cooperate and I can get some decent photos. If it rains, well, that's ok. It can't rain everyday. There are a few graffiti type places in town that might be good for photos. "He" may be doing a bit of traipsing around holding up quilts!

Helen x
linking up with Lorna and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Hound Dog Is Barking

The Hound Dog quilt is barking, it is moving along. It is barking I am so near a finish I can smell it. I have a very sensitive nose, that is partly why we are a pet free home.

I have worked very hard and finished all the grey quilting. Straight line quilting of course. I have quilted along a straight line right through the centre of the blocks on the diagonal. Actually the blocks are pieced looking diagonal. If I quilted diagonal, then would the quilting be straight up and down.

I am sorry it is me holding the quilt and husband taking the photo. It would make much more sense to be in the reverse, he is a good 10" taller than me. Maybe I am just a good wife and didn't want him covered in cotton and bamboo and fluff. Or rather, didn't want to listen to the complaints about the cotton and bamboo fluff. Speaking of which, this isn't my usual wadding. I used cotton and bamboo, and this is meant to be hypo allergenic. It is casting a lot though. It is like having a sheep in the house. I am hoping when it is all trimmed, bound and washed this isn't a problem. I know, I shouldn't pre-empt this!

Anyhow, I digress. I have quilted from corner to corner, spreading out. The first line of quilting is through the diagonal centre of the block. Then 5 lines of straightish quilting either side, the natural width of the foot apart. This uses the last line of stitching  as a guide for the next line. The thread is a variegated grey thread, a Gutterman cotton thread.

The outside part of each block is left quilting free. My negative space. I like negative space. It is quiet. I don't feel the need to fill every available space in either my quilting or my scrapbooking. Less is more. If only my cupboards followed that brief.

All I have left to do now is the purple diagonals. In my wisdom I actually thought, I can do it in the reverse for a change. Duh. It would look exactly the same no matter which corner I started at! I have the same Gutterman thread but in a purple variegate. I love using these Gutterman threads, they are not specific quilting threads, just standard cotton thread, but I love how they sew.

 And then my binding. I really want to bind this in spot, the same spot as I usually have. In my stash I have a nice black and white Rose and Hubble spot, surprise surprise. I do have a grey, but it is too much of an open weave I think for binding, and in any case, I don't have enough of it. Black it is.

My goal is to finish this for next Friday. We are off for a walk with friends to a forest park, which is next to a castle and a fort. As they so often are in Ireland. With all the grey granite stone I think I could get some good photos. And there will be some folk to hold up the quilt. Providing of course it doesn't rain.

Helen x
linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Not Finished Yet Friday

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Finish A Long Proposed Finishes, Q4 2017

My doesn't time fly by fast. We could mark the years by age of ourselves and our grey hair, our kids moving out and on and to new lives, our grandchild ..... or .......... just by the rapid onset of another Finish A Long.

To those who don't know, Finish A Long is a world wide link up to focus on all those unfinished wips (works in progress) that linger at the back of the cupboard, under the table, behind those unworn sweaters in the wardrobe. We all leave encouraging messages, aka lies, "you can do it", "that list is oh so achievable" etc etc. At the end of the quarter we link up the finishes and they all go into a lucky dip for some really good prizes, as yet unwon by myself. Some people go for the really long list of every possible wip they have. Me? I tried that and it was only another angst inducing hang up. I like to keep my list manageable. The wip I enjoy working on slowly, the wip I feel I need to finish for a deadline, and the wip I feel I should get on with. And here we go, again. Some friends here old and new.

1. The Houndstooth Quilt
 designed by and known to me as You Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog Quilt. This is for my daughter, the colours tone in with a Terry Bradley (local artist) print she has. We are so near to a finish for this. It has been exactly  a year in the making and the weather is getting colder. This is a must. Previously blogged about here.

2. Bubbles Quilt
These were originally bee blocks, Bubblebee2 from last year. I ended up with 10 blocks made by others. I am currently making some more to finish with a largish lap quilt, smallish double bed quilt. I would like to finish this for Christmas. To keep my son and girlfriend warm when they come for Christmas. Previously blogged about here.

3. Quatrefoil Window Quilt
These are mostly blocks from Beeabee2017. I have made some more blocks and am in the process of sewing them together. It is a child's quilt. What can you see out the Quatrefoil window? I am hoping to finish this quickly. How quickly depends on the Bubbles Quilt above. Previously blogged about here.

4. Liberty EPP Hexie Quilt
This won't be finished, but I always include it anyway. It is my lucky talisman. Previously blogged about here.

5. Hedgehog Cushions
These are for my daughter for her living room. Started then stopped. Should be finished ok. Previously blogged about here. (terrible light, its a grey day and grey fabric)

6. #whatthefade
my #what the f****** shawl, my brioche knitting. Enough said. I WOULD like to finish this by the end of October so I can be smug and indeed snug and warm on a girls' weekend away. The knit a long has already finished and I am still on clue 2. (I think a lot of other people are too). Previously blogged about here.
7. Profile Scarf                                                                                                                                  
One last wip squeezed in on the last day, and updating this list. I forgot about my blue Studio wool from Loop Knits, my Profile Shawl , which is more of a scarf thing. According to the pattern, there is only one more repeat of lace and garter to go. But .... I am very generous on the front front if you know what I mean. When I bought the yarn, I was told it was a slightly thicker yarn I had chosen and so it would go into a second skein. I think it may have knitted up a bit smaller? Anyhow, it is smaller than I woud like, a bit smaller looking in the pattern photo. I think I will do a few more repeats. Pity this isn't finished for today. I am going out for afternoon tea with my scrapbooking friends and am wearing blue. Hopefully finish this in time for the Chelsea match I am going to in a few weeks. (for the unknowing, Chelsea play in blue. Blogged about here.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all my wips. I'm keeping it real folks! There is also the small matter of Christmas approaching, the C word. I don't think about Christmas  this early, but I would like to make some more Christmas stockings for our increasing family. And, maybe, some pairs of jammy bottoms. Just maybe.

Hoping your list if you have one, is just as achievable as mine (?)

Helen x
linking up with FAL 2017 qtr 4

Sunday, 1 October 2017

What The Fade? It's a Brioche!

A few weeks ago I signed up for a knit a long. #What The Fade designed by Drea Knits.

Those of you who kindly follow my instagram account, may be aware of my Battle of the Brioche. There is brioche, as I knew it only two weeks ago. French, comforting, rich and yummy.

 And this week there is b***** brioche. Enough to make a grown man cry to paraphrase the Rolling Stones.

At yarnfolk, blogged about here, I bought my wool for the #whatthefade, it looked fun. A mystery knit a long resulting in a big shawl/scarf. This sounds fun.

And here's my wool again.  A really nice fade from the Skein Queen.

 This in fact could have been a "squirrel moment". You  know, one of those moments were you rush off to do something.

 The knit a long started, we were in Malaga, soon catch up I thought. When the decorators were here, I thought a little gentle knitting would be just the thing. I would be Miss Marple, sit and knit in the background. Oh, my, did I turn into a Jekkyl and Hyde character. "Don't speak to me I am concentrating. Don't look at me I am concentrating. Leave my food at the door, I am concentrating. Please give me a hug and mop my tears, this takes concentration."

I can honestly say I have never done anything so difficult for a long time. These little grey cells have become a little rusty. Brioche knitting gives them a work out. It took me a whole week to get beyond row 8. Seriously. A whole week. Pride would not let me give up. I was advised by a knitter much better than me to stick with it and use my lifelines. I am so glad I did. Now I am really enjoying it.

 I have cracked brioche knitting and it is ok. Honestly. Nothing to cry about. It is rather like riding a bike - incredibly difficult until you master it. Then it is as easy as .... well ..... as easy as riding a bike.

Brioche knitting gives a reversible effect. There is a right side and a wrong side, but to me I like both sides, always the liberal and the devil's advocate.

So, am I mistake free from now on? Nooooooo. Last Friday night I dared to watch tv whilst brioching. (another new word for the lexicographer). Last night I realised I had left out the whole first section of clue no 2. I mistakenly thought the whole first section was just a recap of clue no 1. Oooops.,  and no I am not ripping it out. It will be ok. The section I had done I had muddled up my E and my F yarn. One mistake will only compound or play off the other. I think the lesson learned here is to print off the instructions rather than read onscreen.

Is there meant to be a button hole in it? No of course there isn't. I feel a little bit of swiss darning at the end, I will have loads of ends to sew in too. The designer, Andrea Mowry suggests we carry the wool at the row ends along the I cord. Nope. With 6 shades, most of which are similar, I am not carrying them all up the sides. Too much room for starting the wrong colour again. It is hard enough keeping track of the I cord and the rows. You see, every row is knitted twice before starting the next row. My knitting skills have improved no end. My vocabulary has improved no end. brioche, lifelines, I cord, What The F..... The list gets longer, as does my swearing. At least I have stopped crying. And my husband says it looks good. That's good enough for me. Big girl pants are on, we will get through this. I am catching up on the missed out bit on clue 2, then off to start clue 3. Clue 5 was released on Thursday.

Helen x
linking up with Dreami! and Sandra and all her squirrels!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Quatrefoil foil blocks

I have started to think about my quatrefoil window blocks from Beeabee2017. This is only a small bee and I have enjoyed it very much, I "knew" most of the girls beforehand, everybody has been very friendly and very generous. So, I am anxious to finish this up so the girls can see it completed.

The last of my blocks arrived last week. I haven't posted them as I wanted to wait.  The blocks are perfect.

One has a centre of red hearts, and the other has hippos peeking in the windows. For my daughter in law, hippos run a very close second to her love of camels. Anneliese, mail from the cheeky monkey, very kindly also sent me two bibs she made for my new grandson.

 My daughter in law will be delighted. These are lovely bibs which front fasten with a cam snap. Anneliese tells me they are made from left over or reycyled fabrics, so that will go down well too. She also optimistically sent me a baby knitting magazine in german. Er, help! You can see why I waited to post, I wanted these to be a surprise for Mrs C.

Today I started to blocks together. I asked for some baby blocks, but not all baby blocks. The idea is this is to be a restful quilt with little bits of interest. I didn't want to make a stimulating up all night quilt full of goings on. This is more of a snuggle down and have a wee sleep quilt.

I trimmed the blocks down to 12". I am going to go with three across and four down. That will give about 34" by 45". I think that should be ok.

 Every row will have one picture block at least. The reverse of the quilt will have a vertical column of blocks as well. Here's a picture of 3 blocks auditioning for the back.

They have all been queuing up to audition. And if there are any left, I might make a cushion or a bag to put the quilt in. I haven't yet decided.

He whom I share this house with, sometimes thinks we have quilts. Or that is the impression he gives me. Sez he today, and who is THIS for? Doesn't he know we have a whole new little person to make quilts for?

Helen x

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Still Blowing Bubbles

Having recapped my list of finishes earlier in the week, I thought it was time to revisit a few more old favourites, before the new link up begins.

I have been doing a bit of work in the background on my Bubblebee quilt, designed by AyliN-Nilya. Last year Celine of asked was anybody interested in a bee based on this pattern. I presume Celine must have been in a previous one, as this was to be Bubblebee2. About 23 or so signed up as interested, by the time of start up this was down to about 17. About 10 or so of us actually saw out the year. It must have been a nightmare for Celine to keep reworking those spreadsheets as people drifted in and out. I think by the end, those of us who were left had a strong determination to see it through.

I think I ended up with 10 blocks, including one I made myself. I had always intended this to be a largish lap quilt, smallish double bed quilt, so more blocks are in the offing. At this point in time, I have 11 and 3/4 blocks, so I have sewn them together to see how they are sizing up. I also have a couple more "set up" and just needing sewn.

So far so good. Just 41/4 more and that will be hunky dory. I have a feeling these last blocks will all be smaller floating blocks - maybe I shouldn't have sewn the others together to better balance them out! Ok. Two biggish bubbles like this one:

and two smaller floating bubbles, like this jade one I made for Brandy:

The question is - do I keep them all black or have a rogue red one? Will a red one look quirky or just pretentious? Does anybody actually care? I say red, because I am going to back this with a sugar skull fabric. The fabric I want has a black background and small sugar skulls with a predominance of red and white accents. I headed out last Saturday to buy it, but could only get a sickly pink in a large scale. If I go to my usual trusty Paragon shop, I know I will get what I am looking for. I usually time those visits with my hairdresser who is nearby.

The bubbles are not in themselves difficult, but they are a footer. Some of these strips of fabric are just over 1/8" when sewn in. It is foundation paper piecing which was a new skill to me. To keep all these little strips of fabric flat, it takes lots of visits to the iron. Then it seems that the iron shrinks the fabric or something. No matter how careful you are, it is always 1/8" short at the end. I now make the outer ring larger and trim to size. Even so, you measure, measure again, cut. Turn to measure the other direction and it seems to have contracted!

Nearly there and it will be another finish. Hopefully.

Helen x

linking up with Let's Be Sewcial and Sew Fresh Quilts

Sunday, 24 September 2017

FAL qtr 3 end, part 3, Lucent Baby Quilt

Perhaps the most important finish in my proposed finishes, was the Lucent Baby Quilt for our own wee dote. The baby quilt for our grandson, at that stage still unborn. It is listed in the Midget Gem Quilts FAL proposed finish  blog post. And the finish is blogged about here

I loved making and quilting this quilt. For several reasons. Firstly because it was for our grandson, our first grandchild. I never expected the pull of emotion when I met him, or had to leave him to come home again. He lives in England and I see us putting up the air miles over the coming months.

Secondly this quilt was designed by Yvonne, the baby version of her Lucent quilt. I had admired it and knew instantly this would be "our" baby quilt.

And thirdly, it was a manageable size! A nice size to sew and an even nicer size to quilt. I still did my straight line quilting, but changed direction frequently.  

Here's hoping for a good list of proposed finishes for next quarter and an equal success rate.

Helen x