Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Izzy Wizzy Let's Get Busy

My head is all buzzy, it is fizzing with ideas and things. Too many things. I have various things all nearing completion. All not needing that much to finish them off. And today I am fired up. Virtual friends have their place in life, regardless of what the government studies say. Today my virtual instagram friend, Joanne, posted a video clip on how to change your pfaff foot to the free machine foot. I asked her to send me a photo of her sewing machine, and she very kindly posted a whole video and linked me to it. Now I can change my foot. The weird thing is, I was doing it right all along, it just wasn't working for me, kept falling off. And trust me, you really don't want your foot to fall off when you are in the zone.

Now I had to find something to quilt. Not a problem. First up is the quatrefoil quilt ( I have already been straight line quilting Postcards).

I decided to quilt loops or circles in the blue quatres (?) of the windows. It really didn't work in the pale blue, the navy is far too strong. I have a limited amount of aurifil quilting threads. It is very good quality but at the pricy end of the spectrum. As I never considered I did proper quilting, I wasn't too worried. Now I am "proper" quilting, I need proper thread. I have navy, yellow and for some reason a red, white and blue thread. Why on earth did I ever buy that? I also have some blue variegated thread and some green, but I think they are too thick for my domestic machine.

So, using my massive powers of intellect, I used the navy thread in the windows that had navy views. Some of my circles are a little skew wiff , not quite circular, but not bad for a first attempt.

Next up I did some navy wavy lines through the black window frames. So far so good. It has all worked well, and the navy behaves itself on the black backing.

Now it becomes a little more complicated. The pale blue with the navy quilting looks a mess, like a small child was scribbling. I feel a little unpicking may be in order here.

 To use a paler thread, this will show up so much more on the backing. Now I realise why other quilters have a proper quilting design that shows up on the back as well as the front. The paler threads will also have to be some standard cheap and cheerful sewing threads until I get organised in the quilting thread front. It will be interesting to see the difference.

I have some proper quilting thread that goes from cream to taupe to fawn, I am thinking of using it in the white background. This is all new to me. A whole new exciting window has opened! I will see my grandson, and his mum and dad, in mid July. Looks as if I might be on for a finish!

And a word of warning, I will be reading everybody's blogs now looking for quilting tips.

Helen x
linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts and Let's Bee Social
linking up with Cooking Up Quilts and Main Crush Monday . Beth has a beautiful epp quilt featured in her blog this week.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

There Goes The Band

It wouldn't be like me to jump on the bandwagon. This time, I am so far behind the band wagon, I am running as fast my short legs will go, shouting wait for me. I have hopped skipped and jumped onto the back of the wagon and just about caught up with it, just as it rolls into town. I had said ages ago, no more band wagons, I know I did, but the temptation was just too much for me to resist.

To be fair to myself, I did want to make a little quilt to celebrate all things American. Well, not all things, not the things I don't like, but to celebrate all the things I do like. The ocean, the vastness of the country, the turkey dinners, sweet potatoes, apple pie, that sort of thing. Since my son has been in USA the last few years, I have draped a piece of material with the stars and stripes flag on it over the back of the chair. Not draped all the time, that would be mad. On Thanksgiving Day and Independence Day I drape the fabric, and we have either turkey dinner or hot dogs as appropriate. At this stage my husband will be saying, Do We? Yes, we do, you just haven't noticed! Anyhow, with my son being married and whatnot, I thought we needed to up our game rather. The plan was to make a small Americana quilt. I was going to buy some Uncle Sam type fabric whilst we were there for the wedding, but that didn't happen. I had talked about sewing a Carpenter's Star block quilt which would have been perfect.

In the meantime, Tish announced her mystery Fireburst quilt a long.

 Mmmm what to do? I wanted to do the Carpenter's Star, but surely a Fireburst sounds all sort of July 4 and fireworks type of thing. The quilt a long started, and I still didn't have any fabric. Then I went for a hoke in my drawers, as the saying goes and found some American fabric.

I decided to go with the navy flags as my fabric 1, and then the navy and red starred fabrics and 2 and 3. A plain dark red kona is my background. It wasn't long until I got caught up with my half square triangles and half geese.

 I feel as if I should be finishing the geese, so I am intrigued to see how the half geese work. Tish is very enterprising and has set up a secret society, a Fb page for moral and mutual support. When I posted my fabrics, Tish felt they would work well, so that's all to the good. That is the thing about a mystery quilt, its a mystery.

I am making the baby size which is 32". I plan to maybe add a border with the two narrow strips of fabric. I will use the two narrow fabrics running across the front of my photo, the hearts and stars. Or maybe not, if they look a bit twee.  I don't usually like borders, I like a more modern look to a quilt, these borders can be ironic, no political jokes about walls and borders intended.

So, the excitement has begun. I have a new folder in my lap top labelled Fireburst for photos, as one folder closes, so another opens. I am not sure when the quilt a long finishes, but as I have draped a bit of material for so long, we will not worry too much about an actual finish. I have just checked. Tish finishes on 1 January, that gives me plenty of time for a finish!

If you fancy joining in, I am sure it is not too late. Just jump on board.
Go check out my friend Tish for details.
So, that's me on board the band wagon for now. This reminds me of the lady watching the Salvation Army Band. The band major said to her, "for a donation you can have a hymn." She replied, "can I have him with the tuba?". I loved that joke.

Ooops, another band wagon just went past, and the man that plays the tuba was calling me. More about that next time.
linking up with all the linkups I missed for this!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

It's Playtime Folks!

Still playing along with the #plusplaytimeqal aka #sandrascraps aka #adultplaytime

I love how this quilt is coming along. I love plus quilts, I have made, oh, 3 of them now, and I love all the variations. If you count wonky crosses as a variation on a plus quilt then I have made 5 of them. I love how the background cross gives a foil to the dancing pluses. Adult playtime indeed.

Today is the linky party for the finished flimsy. I have joined my rows 1 and 2. Row 3 I have left floating so to speak as I am not happy with the blue block.

To be more precise, I am not happy with the plus that has the green and yellow geometrics on the white background. I think it is because it is too insipid. It may be too near the stronger yellow. It may be because the squared fabric to the left also has a white background. They are not strong enough together. I do like the squared blue fabric though, so I think it will stay. Maybe.

For now, I am leaving it as it is, sleeping on it as it were. Next time you see this I imagine the green will be gone!

linking up with Sandra

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Weather Update

The British have a reputation for talking about the weather a lot. There's a lot of weather to talk about at the minute. It is still very hot. Scorchio, scorchio, scorchio has been the order of the day. Of course tomorrow we are going to have a day out a deux and the weather is going to break. I know lunch is involved, we may well be sitting in the restaurant, wherever it is, rather than outside. I don't know where we are going, hopefully we will dodge the showers.

It is still too hot to be in the house sewing. I went indoors yesterday to sew another strip of the playtime plus quilt. It didn't take much to persuade me to go back outside again. So, I decided to baste this blast from the past.

Remember this? My quatrefoil quilt, from the beeabee 2017 blocks. Cast your minds back, I was in a National Trust house and loved the quatrefoil window. The house is yellow, the colour of this summer as it turns out, and looked great from outside. From inside, the blue sky shone through the windows, a real window to the world. All last year I seemed to see quatrefoil windows or quatrefoil tiles everywhere I went. It had to be "my block" for the 2017 bee.

 All last year I seemed to see quatrefoil windows or quatrefoil tiles everywhere I went. It had to be "my block" for the 2017 bee.

I asked for a white background, a red firey centre to represent the sun. And blue windows. I wrote my tutorial and sent it around. Anneliese our bee mama, suggested we made the quilt for my impending grandchild. Some of the group picked up on that and sent blocks with a picture fabric for the sky. That seemed to be the way to go.

I played about with a 3 x 4 layout but eventually decided that a 4 x 4 was the best layout for this and promptly abandoned it.  This last week I  made another couple of blocks, using some space fabric Yvonne quiltingjetgirl, and some plane fabric Lucy the charmaboutyou sent me. I also had a block from Tish tishinwonderland who bee crashed the party.

Now for the backing. I had bought some Solar System fabric, but only enough for 3 x 3. The new layout of 3 x 4, then 4 x 4 was going to confuse this somewhat. I used some black and white spot to add two 7" cross stripes to the backing. This made it just big enough, or so I thought.

When I left my lair to begin basting, drat, the backing  was just a little shy. The heat coming up through the table was so warm, I could have just dozed off. My husband said if I did actually lie on the table like I was threatening to , he would have to sacrifice me. I thought it was young chickens that were sacrificed by the Romans, not old broilers, but I thought it best not to test him out.

  Back to the lair again and an extra strip added in, whilst the backing was still pinned to the wadding. The wadding itself was frankensteined in three places, down the centre and across the bottom. I laid it all out again and basted. As of yesterday afternoon it is ready to quilt.


There then followed a conversation on instagram with Lyn of fairisleknitter and Ali of crazydazy. The consensus seemed to be I should have spray basted instead of pinned for a better job. Now, I have spray basted. The problem is I have to get in the car and buy spray basting, whereas there is a readily available stock of quilting pins to hand. If I find spray baste in the cupboard, I will do it again.

The next up is quilting, the top is mostly white, the backing is definitely black. What colour to use? The consensus today seemed to be grey. So grey it is. If I have any grey thread. Do I have any grey thread? I have every other thread.

And what else have I done this week? Worked in the garden. Finished my Comfort Fade Cardi, just the ends to sew in. Knit half of a wowligan cardigan for my grandson. And basted my Writing from Whitehead, but you are sick looking at that. Next up is to finish the last two blocks for Sandra's #plusplaytime quilt, a quilt which definitely falls into the adult playtime category! And one more to sneak in, Tish of wonderland fame has a quilt a long too, it is catch up time with it. Plenty to keep me busy! One last thing, this week I bought a card reader for my big camera. Why did I not know about this? My photos should improve no end.

Helen x

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Time to Play

Hello. It has been a while. I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks, to be frank, it is too hot. Too hot by our standards means around 24 degrees, or 80 degrees in old money. Not hot for those of you in live in desert or all summer round temperatures, but hot for us in our part of the world.

Previous to that I was in the good old US of A, for my a family wedding. I had scheduled a blog post whilst we were away. I apologise if I didn't reply to your comments, I tried to send a quick message that I would reply soon, but it's been too hot ....

In the meantime, I believe Blogger has mucked about with things, sorry changed things. I believe there is no more "open ID", and the way I receive and reply to comments has changed. Well, we will see. Other blogger things are available. I think it is all to do with new personal protection legislation. What do I know? I just know Louise of Quilt Odyssey mentioned it. I will find out soon enough I suppose.

There was a little bit of sewing done this week. Sandra launched her second Annual Quilt A Long a couple of weeks ago. It is her #plusplaytime quilt, a variation of her design that appeared in Modern By The Yard, a free e-zine.

 Just by chance, Sandra had very kindly sent me her offcuts from the magazine quilt, she knows I love spots. So, what else could I use to make this quilt?

It was a bit optimistic of me to think I could make the whole quilt from the small, albeit very generous, stash of spots and squiggles fabric. Time to break into my own stash. I decided to go as far as I could with Sandra's fabric, and then sashay along into mine, rather than mix them up. Sandra's fabric, with a bit of judicious joining here and there, lasted for a whole row and a half.

 Then it segues  rather neatly into my contribution.

A hallmark of Sandra's designs is a shadow outline. Last year, we had maple leaves scattered over a large maple leaf. This year the pluses are dancing across a larger cross. I decided to make this really stand out. The background of my background is cream. My background giant plus is blue, surprise, surprise. Two shades of blue. The top and bottom part are kona oasis (left from the Postcard from Sweden we collaborated on). The middle section of the cross is another kona fabric of forgotten name. It tones in nicely however.

So, I have two rows done, one row to go to get the finished quilt. I have been thinking. Thinking hard. I have some very nice spotty fabric from Purl Soho. Still nice folded in its bags. I am saving it. Maybe it is time to break it out. I will think about it.  My quilt will make up rather smaller than the original design. To get the most out of Sandra's scraps, I reduced the final block size from 3" to 2.5". That's fine by me.

Now, what am I going to use for backing? I have no idea.
Where is this quilt going to go? (usually a question from my husband) I have no idea.
All I know, is I like this already and know it will be loved.

My sun lounger quilts, Mr Cool and Mrs Hot Hot Hot seem to have become sofa quilts, they have yet to make it outdoors this year. Maybe that creates and opening for the sun loungers.

Anyhow, what else  have I been up to? My son and his lovely fiancĂ©e got married, that was lovely. A special time for us and a chance to meet the rest of her family, our new family. We had a good time. This daughter in law, too, is a crafty girl. Both my daughters in law are crafty girls! All the wedding decorations were made by her herself, and very good they were too.

I got some yarny shopping done. My favourite yarn shop in USA, Loop in Philadelphia, was as obliging as ever. Purl Soho is my favourite yarn shop in New York , but don't tell Loop that, they might be hurt. I bought this great blue and white yarn for a two colour sweater for myself for the winter.

 I also got a Fringe Supply project bag. I know, they are deadly expensive, albeit cheaper in the USA. And, did I really need one? Of course I did. And of course it is blue, my favourite. I know, I could have made one myself, but this is rather nice.

After the wedding we went on to New Orleans, which is very cool whilst being very hot. A great  city, lots to see and lots to do. And a yarn shop! I bought two skeins of Malabrigo, and some rather cool buttons.  I know that's a French yarn, and we were in USA, but I liked it.

I had intended to try and pick up some quilting rulers and some wedding scrapbook stuff, but I came down with a mystery tummy bug and missed out on my day for that. Ah well, there is always next year! I had also wanted to buy some jolly red, white and blue fabric to make myself a July 4th mini quilt. As I say, there is always next year.

Helen x

PS, I know its not just not me, Miss Tish in Wonderland, but doesn't Plus Playtime, sound , well, just a bit, you know, like adult playtime?
joining up with Sandra mmmquilts and her plus playtime qal

Friday, 11 May 2018

Belfast Bulletin - Hot off the presses

The Belfast Bulletin has had its official reveal. It went on a little trip last week to have its photo shoot, before it goes on its long trip for handover.

For those who are unaware, and how could you be? This has been a major part of my life, both in the real world and in the blogging world for quite a few months. My son is getting married. I can't say my second son, my sons are twins. To say second son would open up a whole new seam in the mine of family relationships. However, this son is the second son to marry, and of course the proud mama wants to make a wedding quilt. I suggested the Postcards from Sweden quilt but although they both loved it, they thought something, well, a little quieter. My son was always quiet plain colours, there wouldn't really be any great change now I suppose. Anyhow, I spotted a quilt design Sarah Goer made for Mary Ringer and thought this would be perfect, if made a little bigger. The design was approved and it was full steam ahead.

The name Belfast Bulletin came about as I like to name my quilts. I renamed Postcard from Sweden as Writing from Whitehead, a local seaside town which has a promenade of bright houses. I wanted to keep within the writing theme, so Belfast Bulletin was born. I actually thought Bulletin from Belfast, but my daughter thought it laid to much emphasis on the word "bullet". Fair enough. We do live in Belfast. (Apologies if you have read all this so many times before)

My new daughter in law is American. And like many Americans, her roots are in Ireland. Remarkably her roots are from a small town not more than 20 miles from where we live. We can join the motorway half a mile from our house, I can hear it as I type. Drive straight turning neither left nor right and you end up in Randalstown. Remarkable. So where better to take this quilt for its quilts in the wild photo shoot?
this photo made me think of our own dear queen, at a unveiling.
I now declare this quilt open! waves *  at the crowd.

The sun was shining when we left the house. The sun was shining when we returned home, but it was rather overcast in Randalstown, no reflection on the town or the folk who live there! The photos are rather darker than I hoped, but that's what happens when you photo quilts in the wild!

Randallstown is a town which really grew up around a castle, and the ancient family who lived there, Shane's Castle and the O'Neill family. The O'Neill's were one of the old clans of  Ireland. You can't move in N Ireland for O'Neills and the O'Neill family still live there.
The town was a mill town, there was a cotton mill there, I used to buy fabric remnants there when I used to quilt first. The mill closed down in the 1980s. Don't tell but I bought a pair of shorts for 50p there and I am still wear them. Can't be bad to that.!
From the viaduct there is a lovely outlook across the river towards the mill and the mill chimney. We took a few photos there. It got a bit surreal. We were taking photos of the quilt on the viaduct. On the river bed below we could see a man taking photos of us taking photos! It wasn't creepy just funny.
I would have like to walk down to the bridge and take photos there, but the pavement is rather narrow and there was a surprising amount of traffic for a Sunday afternoon.
When you look at this photo of the viaduct, you can see why we didn't drape the quilt over the top too much!

We then walked back along the viaduct towards Shane's Castle entrance, and tried to take some photos with the castle gates in the backdrop. There was a car parked there and the driver was watching us intently. Again not creepy, just funny.

Next up we found this fantastic roller, which is repurposed as public art from the old mill. It is just at the entrance to the town, opposite the castle. And guess what? The paint just matched the backing of our quilt! Serendipity or what. This was in a little grassed and gated off area. We headed in and started taking our photos. And guess what? We got an audience. A guy came through the gate. I thought he was going to offer to help, to hold the quilt, take the photo. But no. He stood alongside us watching us out of the corner of his eye then left as quietly as he had arrived. Again not creepy, just funny.

It was lovely taking photos in Randalstown, and being the talk of the town. I would have like to have headed towards the shore, Randallstown is on the shores of Lough Neagh, N Ireland's biggest inland water. That big grey cloud was getting nearer, and I had a feeling dinner might be ready. We went home and guess what, the sun was out.
I am pretty sure my daughter in law will like her quilt. She has been following the progress on instagram. I look forward to delivering it soon in person. And I feel a forthcoming blog post on both my wedding quilts. I will of course not have an actual favourite, I love them both equally. 
Helen x

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Message Is On The Back of the Postcard

The purpose of a postcard? To send a pretty picture of somewhere you are? To send a message on the back from somewhere you are? Or a combination of both? Remember those days when you felt forced to send postcards? To your parents, to your granny, to your friends, to work. Offence might be taken if you didn't. "What happened to my postcard?"  I was asked one more than one occasion. Once by work, they liked to put them up on the noticeboard, it became accepted I, my pen, my postcard and my stamp were never in the same place at the same time. The second time was by a dear relative (?) who never went anywhere herself, but liked to get the postcard, and also a present. Funny the things that come into your head when piecing a backing.

With all this in mind, I couldn't possibly put just anything on the back of my Postcard from Sweden quilt, aka, my Writing from Whitehead. It had to be a clear thought out message. I looked for quite a while for the perfect backing fabric. I spotted this on Craftsy and new it would be perfect. Even better it was on sale, though of course the shipping costs practically outweigh the savings. Never mind, it was exactly what I wanted. It is Tula Pink Arrowhead fabric.


The little egg timers remind me of penants, or flags that swing from the stringy things on the sides of boats. Those who are of the sailing and boating fraternity probably know the terminology. I have been to the Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth a couple of times and it reminded me of there. Ensigns - isn't that the word I am looking for? You know, you want to send Nelson a message, so you run a flag or two up the flag pole.

I bought enough fabric to back the quilt completely if I joined two widths. The more I looked at it I didn't wan to do that. Sometimes one fabric backing is right, but mostly I prefer pieced backing. If it is just any old stuff you hanging around, then yes, it looks make do and mend and a bit tight fisted. But the backing should be a thing of beauty in itself I believe, and this time I think I have nailed it.

I was about 7" short of the width. All the offcuts were gathered and waiting for use. So why not? I made a long strip of squares and rectangles, abour 4" or so wide, just random placement,. Next up I made a long narrow strip of mostly purple with other colours interspersed. Ironically this is the only fabric that isn't cotton, it is a poly cotton I think. I don't know how this snuck in. I had all my fabrics labelled and the purples were all present and correct. Just a spare I think. Anyhow, it works in the backing. Next up was another long strip of random colours again.

I love how this looks, I like to think it has some sort of semaphore code. It reminded me of Girl Guides, with my friend Liz. We were frantically waving flags across a field, trying desperately and failing to send semaphore messages. Rather like in Swallows and Amazon, by Arthur Ransom, incidentally a favourite book of ours. My father loved it, I loved and my sons, and also my niece.

I'm a bit short to hold all this up! I am going to rig some wire across my fence I have decided.
I am reusing the photo from the last posting , I think the fabrics are so cool together. Unfortunately   Felix the hare has had a mishap, a big gust of wind blew him over and broke off his ears. I am going to knit him a hat. As soon as I have time that is.               

The next week or two are particularly busy for us, not much sewing time lined up. I am hopeful though of basting and quilting by month end. If I do, I will put the flags out. Maybe even let you know by semaphore. And then it will be off to Whitehead for the photoshoot! A wee day out, to the vintage tea rooms, the steam train and the wool shop! What more could a girl want.
One last photo to share with you. When I was taking the garden photos, our magnolia stellate was throwing out the most glorious perfume. Spring has finally sprung.

Helen x
linking up with Beth and Cooking Up Quilts
linking up with Lorna Sew Fresh

Friday, 4 May 2018

Monet and Me

I like Art. Who doesn't? I love going around art galleries on holidays and viewing the famous artist of the cities we are in. Of course that means I am always skimming the surface of the art world, Malaga is Picasso, Vienna is Klimt and France is Monet. In fact everywhere is Monet. I have seen Monet exhibitions in Paris, New York and London. I was such a lightweight, I thought artists painted one painting. I knew they did lots of sketches and scribbles on the back of an envelope, but I was surprised to find they actually did lots of variations of the one painting. I mean, there are dozens of Monet's Waterlilies. Not just the really famous one, and there is a little known early version hanging in my spare bedroom. This is a little known version. At this stage in his life Monet was playing about with fabric paints and salt and machine embroidery.

Excuse the rather bad photo. The quilt holder upper has been unwell, and I didn't want to disturb him. So, I climbed on a chair, then climbed on my daughter's school desk to lift down the picture to photo. No, this did not end well. Apparently part of rest and recuperation does not include running down the hall on hearing a crash bang wallop. I survived, the chair survived, the desk mostly survived minus one shelf it didn't really need anyway.

And the reason for all this destruction? I wanted to take a photo. Well, yes. I was knitting and joining in with the Impressionist mystery knit a long shawl by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade.

Your colour choices could be inspired by your favourite impressionist painting. These were my first colour choices.  None of these were from stash, I went to a local yarn shop to buy them.

Then I pondered this and decided the green was too similar to my #what the fade shawl.

The fleck was very similar too. There was a real purple shimmer from this fleck though, so I thought I would go with the purple  tones. I had a mid purple bought from Sylvantiger yarns as part of the flower power fund for Marie Curie. I dithered as to whether or not the purples were too close in tone but went with them. I was glad I did, but more about that later.

It is only since knitting the shawl I noticed how the purple shades are all similar in the garden and they blend together ok!

The shawl was released over 4 clues, and clue 2 was well underway by the time I joined in.

 I knitted like a knitting frenzy and actually finished all 4 clues on schedule. It ended up with a mahoosive 584 stitches so there was a lot of knitting. There was however no brioche so it went fairly quickly.

I loved knitting this. I loved the loose knit of the 4 ply yarn on a double knitting needle. I loved the texture of the garter stitch and the leaf motif counterbalanced with the more delicate lace sections. I still felt the purples were too similar as I knitted, but now it is finished I am happy. I can actually see myself knitting this again. I fancy it in blues sometime.

The ends are all sewn in but I still have to block this. I wouldn't bother, except I think the edge border tension would be improved after blocking. Aren't I the proper knitter now! When it is blocked and dried I will post another photo.

And there was one last great thing about this shawl.  I entered it into the Flower Power Fund spring knit a long, and I won! I won a skein of Norah George sock yarn and a fantastic project bag by Sussexyorkie. Didn't I say last post I needed more project bags. I will let you see these when they arrive.

And last week, I won a skein of my choice from Ellie from crafthousemagic for knitting her valentine's socks. I must say, the gingerbread and green tea was lovely,  I must buy some.

Helen x