Friday, 16 November 2018

It's Life Jim, But Not As We Know It.

You know what it's like, the old saying from Star Trek, from the Vulcan man  to Captain Kirk. I have forgotten the character's name.  Well, I have been waiting for weeks for a quilt finish, or nearly quilt finish, and the finish isn't what I was expecting at all.

The What's Through the Window is coming along nicely. All the threads on the front are buried, and I have made a start on the back. To be truthful, I will be glad to see the back of this, Har de Har!

In the meantime, I created a slight diversion. Diversion tactics are good. Sometimes, if I walk away from the pain in the ass, do something else, then I get all enthused all over again. And this diversion? Tea towels. That's right. Tea towels.

My daughter has a friend who is having a baby soon. Very soon. The daughter bought her a lovely Cath Kidston changing bag, in a bird pattern. This is a common pattern with this shop, they have tea towels and bedding in the same range. It may perhaps have been better to buy two pillowcases, but I bought two tea towels. To make a quilt out of. Periodically I hit these periods of frugality, and this was one of them. Tea towels were cheaper than pillowcases.

Time travel forward another month or so, and my daughter was reminding me of the impending baby. My daughter likes to give presents on time, not deliver a card with a promise of a present to come. She's like her dad in that way. Not like me at all!

So last Friday I rather nervously cut up the tea towels into 5 1/2" strips, and sewed them together.

Then cut them up and sewed them again. There is nearly enough, just one square short. I used some iron kona to make up the shortfall. I can embroider the date and name there at the end.

It is funny how the things we least expect,  often give us the most pleasure. I simply enjoyed making this baby quilt. No stress, no hassle, no awkward seams or nesting. No pun intended! It was a pleasure to sew.

I bordered it with "iron" kona, and threw in a little fuschia pink to brighten and lift it. We must spell Fuschia differently in the UK, blogger wants to correct my spelling.

Next to the backing. I knew I had a little pink gingham from eons ago. From my first incarnation of quilting around two decades ago. I have given away a lot of fabric from that time, too dated now, but I always held on to the little remnant of pink gingham. I always used to used gingham for backing at that time. The gingham was just a little shy at the top.

 So I used the tried and tested method of cut it all up and sew it back together. The trick is look as if it is all part of the plan. I think I got away with it this time.

Keeping in with the abundance of less theory here, I opted for simple quilting. A foot's  width either side of the seams and around the border. I, surprise surprise opted for a spotty binding. Pink was too sugary, black was too severe, but the green in my scrap bag seemed to work. When the binding was over stitched, I added and extra line of quilting just inside the binding.


Today the weather was on my side, I was able to get a couple of photos in the garden, with Kew, my tin blue tit. I know I have a hare and a blue tit and a wooden head in the garden, but trust me, my garden is tasteful!

And there we have it. A finish, Jim, but not as we know, or expected it.

Helen x
linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, and Finished Or Not Friday
linking up with Thank Goodness its Finished Friday

Friday, 9 November 2018

What's That Flying Overhead? A Pig?

Can pigs fly? Would you believe me if I say it is almost 3 weeks since I last blogged? Would you believe me if I said I have finished my What's Out The Window Quilt? Finished to the point of only needing the binding sewn down, and the ends buried. Admittedly this can take as long as sewing the actually quilt.

As of yesterday I have finished all the quilting! And the weather has turned so rotten, I can't get any decent photos. When I last checked in, I had finished all the white swirling background quilting. It took me a lot longer than I thought, maybe won't do that again! I had all the black squares swirled, I enjoyed that.

This week I outlined the windows and quatrefoil in a colour closest to the fabric in the quatrefoils. I then did a sort of diamond shape, an upturned V shape in the full depth of  each quartrefoil. And another, about 1.5" shorter than the previous.

That left the centre square, the heart of the window that the sun shines in. The original quatrefoil I had seen in Hezlett House (a National Trust property in Bessbrook, N Ireland), had the sun shining in so strong, it looked as if it was on fire.

 I was originally going to do a spirograph sort of thing. At a later date, I decided I liked the uncluttered look of the square, so I kept it simple. The red centres have a simple heart shape stitched on. The orange tones have a row of embroidery stitches from my sewing machine, in an orange thread. Some have hearts, some have flowers or trees. My favourite is the honeycomb. Unfortunately the light was so bad, the excitement will have to mount until next time.

So, no link up finish today for Finish It Up Friday, but maybe next Friday? Who knows. Who knows. My American son and his wife are flying in for a quick visit, there may not be much sewing done!

And the last three weeks? Flying my kite again! We had a quick trip to Paris. Paris, France, not Paris, Texas. We went with friends to watch a rugby match and had a ball. Lots of sitting in Paris cafes, drinking expresso coffee and trying to look Parisian. What's not to like? Paris was wonderful, and as I look at all the shuttered shops in our high streets, it was interesting that in "our street" in Paris, there were 2 restaurants, 3 cafes, a fish shop, a butchers, a vegetable and fruit shop, a shop selling gloves!!, a chocolatier (not a sweet shop, a chocolatier), 2 chemist shops, and a high end shop selling expensive sweets and a high end stationary shop. All in one little side street, not a special street, but just an ordinary street in Paris, with apartments above the shops. Here's a few photos to tantalise you.

speak again soon,
Helen x

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Have I Nothing To Do? Finish A Long, Sing A Long

Here we go again, happy as can be. All good pals, and jolly good company ....

Here is my list of unfinished projects, or unstarted projects for the last quarter of Finish A Long 2018.

1  Quatrefoil quilt, my "what's through the window" quilt. The beeabee2017 quilt .
So near to a finish, I can taste it.

2  Kingfisher Liberty Quilt
This was a quilt a long through the summer. I didn't get so emotionally involved that I felt I had to follow the crowd. I am happy just to poodle along here.

3  Liberty Hexie Quilt
This quilt and I are joined at the hip. It is my ongoing project. When this is finished, my work here on earth is done!

4  Economy Square Quilt
I love this. The squares are all from a series of Japanese charm squares sent to me as a club over a year. This was a present from my daughter in law. I would really like to finish this, probably not this time, but finish sometime.

5  The 101 Trouser
I'm going to give this a go, 2 m of chambrey cotton are ready and waiting

6  Seachange Sweater
I started this a couple of weeks ago, hoping for a Halloween finish. Maybe, maybe not, but definitely a sooner rather than later finish.

7  Baby Quilt
A baby quilt for my daughter's friend out of these two tea towels, and some kona cotton.
8  Floosie Cardigan
At this stage, just the yarn and the pattern. A nice Christmas sweater?

9 Baby Quilt 2
A baby quilt for the lovely Claire who does my feet, or Foot Claire as she is known here.
10  Timely Cardigan
Started, then Truly Myrtle, the designer Libby Johnson, released some "larger sizes". I am ripping out and starting again.

11  Christmas Socks
We all need Christmas socks

12 Project Bag
I so so want a project bag out of this Alice in Wonderland fabric. So what's stopping me?


And that's it. A neat 12. Should I make it a baker's dozen?  Could be more, could be less. There are a few unfinished things still lurking in the drawers. Obviously all 12 won't be completed, but it would be nice to finish a few.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Reprise, Finish A Long 2018, 3rd Quarter, part 2

The Beekeeper's Cardigan. I really am in love with this. The Beekeeper's cardigan is my second finish in the Finish A Long quarter 3. My proposed list of finishes was posted about HERE. I am proud to say I have 50% finishes in the knitting department, and 20% in the quilted. Mind you, it depends on how many unfinished works I admitted to!

I loved this pattern by Marie Greene, who publishes as Olive Knits. It was part of a 4 day knit a long, that took me, ahem, a month or two. It was worth the wait. I love it.

The yarn was custom dyed for me by Lay Family Yarn. And I have enough left to knit a shawl or cowl. Love that.

This admittedly isn't my garden, it is the bee garden in a local National Trust property, Rowallane. I try to encourage bees into my garden, but unfortunately don't have a bee hive!
And these are my two finishes, just linked up in the nick of time!
Helen x
linking up with Sandra Sew Of Course

Finish A Long 2018, 3rd quarter finishes, part 1

Goodness gracious me, it is the last day of the link ups for the third quarter of Finish A Long 2018, and I'm only hitting the keyboard now. My predicted link up of proposed finishes is HERE. I won't list them all at this stage, basically there were 2 quilts that should have been finished, 3 quilts that had no chance of being finished, and 2 cardigans that were hopeful of a finish.  And how did I do?

One quilt finish, and the cardigan. Not the quilt finish I was hoping for, but never mind! Each finish has to be linked up separately, so here's the first, and the second will follow hot foot.

My Sandra's Scraps Quilt, the Playtime Plus Quilt

I blogged about this finish in the last week or so, but it seemed way to early for a link up post then! I wanted to get a photo in the orchard county of Armagh but the rains came.

 So .... here are some more photos taken around our garden, the quilt looking rather nice in the late summer/early autumn garden if I say so myself.

This is the first finish that I have been truly happy with my fmq, so here are some close ups of the quilting.

The white background got white ripples, to keep a bit of movement flowing in the quilt.

The shadow plus in the background got a sort of large loop/small loop off a central line. Sort of reminiscent of plants in the garden, maybe delphiniums.

The small pluses in the foreground have narrow lines going backwards and forwards. The quilting thread reflects the colour of the plus.

The binding, of course, is my favourite spot.

And there we have it.
Finish no 1.

Helen x
linking up with Sandra Sew Of Course

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Playtime's Over, It is a Finish

Ta da! Can I have a Ta Da! I have a finish. About flipping time too, you are probably thinking. I should be slipping this in quietly under the wire, not shouting Ta Da! from the rooftops. Well, a finish is a finish.

Just to remind you, this is the Plus Playtime, known to me as Sandra's Scraps, or my Adult Playtime (?) quilt from a quilt a long organised by the lovely Sandra of mmmquilts. This was a fun quilt a long. All the more so, as I won one of the prizes, two quilt patterns from Beth of cooking up quilts. They are now in my long list of possible future quilts.

Now for the stats. My lap quilt measures, I can't remember now! 45 or 48 inches, something like that. This is slightly smaller than the original design. I decided to use scraps Sandra had sent me as a gift a while back. Sandra had used these fabrics in a quilt and I had admired them. She very kindly sent me her offcuts. So, to optimise the fabrics, I reduced the size of my blocks slightly. I started using Sandra's scraps from the top corner and worked through them. When I ran out, I then moved on to my own fabrics which tied in best, those with dots and dashes. I also used kona left from Postcards from Sweden or Writing from Whitehead which we had collaborated on.

As you might have guessed by now, I like to rename my quilts, give them a name which makes me smile, or has a special association for me. And so, my Plus Playtime quilt became known to me as Sandra's Scraps.

I love the mix in life of old and new. So, when my husband and I were going on a genealogical hunt, this was the perfect time to take the quilt. His great grandparents came from a small village called Tynan. Tynan really is tiny. Tiny Tynan. The centre of the village is an ancient Celtic cross, there are several of these about these country, but this is a very fine one. Where better to take photos of a plus quilt?

The quilt has Sandra's signature of a shadow plus, a cross in the background. I could go very philosophical here about old and new, cross within a cross, the church as a background to life, both old and modern. I will leave all that to you, if you want. The great grandparents were married in this church in 1864. In 1865 they left Tynan and headed up to the city of Belfast, a young family with a baby, heading off to a new life. We were very privileged to look through the actual church records, and we found the deaths of his great great grandparents registered. No surviving headstone unfortunately, but it was lovely to see their names in the book and to find out the  name of the great great grandmother. Her name was Sally, or Sarah. So often women of that time were just known as wife of, or relative of. I even saw one listed in an English church record as "old crone of". Charming . We found the great grandparents deaths, Sally and Nathaniel. It is acceptable to delight in a death when it is 7 generations back from our grandson. A whole 7!!!! I love those names Sally and Nathaniel. Now if I had known that when having my own children .....

As a complete aside, we were here earlier in the year on recce. The man working in the churchyard had suggested we contacted the church to ask to see the records.  A complete coincidence we were out and about one day, and got chatting to a man, as you do. I mentioned my husband's family was originally from Tynan. N Ireland is a small country, it turned out this man was not only from Tynan, but unbelievably he THE MAN who would be showing us the records! One of the nice things about living in such a small country, or maybe just one of those spooky unexplained things? Anyhow, we had a lovely morning with Tommy, handling books and records hundreds of years old.

After we left the church, we headed to Clontycarty Lane. We had driven past this earlier, and knew the family came from Clontycarty. I love that name!

The lane got narrower and narrower, very quickly it became the width of a car, with the grass running up the centre. You know what I am going to tell you, it unsurprisingly ended up, after a good country mile, into a dead end. Our city car had to go into reverse, with me hanging out the window, left a bit, right a bit, no my left, not your left!

 The cows got very excited. I think they may have been bullocks. (I am slightly more of a country girl than my husband). Anyhow, the cows got very excited, just like teenage boys, and raced alongside the car, bellowing very loudly. I know cows moo, these cows were bellowing! I rather think, like teenage boys, they were expecting food.

I took some nice photos in the garden too. It is nearly Finish A Long time again, so I will maybe keep those photos until then. I also haven't told you much about the actual quilting, that's for another blog post too.

All the best,
Helen x
linking up with Beth and Cooking Up Quilts
linking up with Lorna and Sew Fresh Quilts
linking up with Finish It Up Friday