Monday, 30 December 2013

A Quick Cheesy Snack - Spot the Cheddar!


Just a little selection of English cheeses lined up on a plate... (I scoffed them while cooking Sunday dinner and ever so slightly spoilt my appetite)



cut from these packets that I raided from the local supermarket before Christmas...



and now laid out on the fabrics with the result of the Boxing Day Quiz.

Number 1 is the colour of smoked salmon, so quite plainly a red herring.

Number 2 is a creamy buttermilk colour.  I could just have easily grabbed a block of Lancashire or Cheshire, but I fancied some Wensleydale, which is perhaps a tiny touch pale for the fabric, but I was thinking primarily of my stomach at the time.

Number 3 - I have lost count of the number of times I have seen this colour on American blogs or websites referred to as cheddar, and I have been sitting here yelling, " No, it's Red Leicester!"

Number 4 - yes, here it is, the real thing.  Living in Somerset, with Cheddar less than fifteen miles away, we are very particular about our Cheddar.  We always buy Farmhouse Cheddar, and my husband likes it extra mature, so it has little chalky calcium bits in it.  I prefer it a bit younger myself.

Number 5 - the same routine as number 3, but in this case I will be yelling "Double Gloucester!"

Number 6 in real life is a nice biscuity colour like home made cheese crackers, but my camera couldn't cope with the poor light so it has turned out the colour of dirty pastry that has been rolled out on the floor by a six year old.

Well done Gavin, breezing in first with the right answer! Note the confidence in his answer - no doubt or hesitation.  He knows that we would have no problem finding our way round each other's fridges.

Motherdragon's Australian cheddar hit the mark, and Beth Strand realised there was something up my sleeve.  Alcea Rosea just missed it, but getting subtle shades of yellow right on computer screens is a hit and miss affair... her cheese and number 2 on her screen may well have been a perfect match.

So if you are feeling a bit peckish by now, feast your eyes on more lovely cheese here, or just make a dash for the fridge.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Dewdrops


Water can be so pretty in tiny quantities.  This picture was taken in October last year.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Free Motion Rudbeckias and Blackcurrants


Work is ticking ahead on the new project.  The basic idea is to do panels with two colours, divided by a thin strip using up small scrap oddments.  It was fun reworking the rudbeckias design on yellow - all very sunny and summery.

As for the burgundy red, the colour suggested blackcurrants, so that's what I did.  The leaves are fancier than the real thing, but the sprigs of fruit are fairly accurate.  I have spent so many hours in my time with my head stuffed in a blackcurrant bush that I didn't need to to look at pictures or draw a sketch.  The fruit just grew out of the machine as I sewed.  Fab fun.

Linking up again to Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday
and Lorna's blog Sew Fresh Quilts for TGIFF.  I feel a bit cheeky linking up to TGIFF because it's not finished... but this block is finished, and she asked me to link up, which was very sweet of her. Thank you Lorna!
...and finally, Barbara's blog Cat Patches for the December NewFO.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Boxing Day Quiz


The Boxing Day soup will be ready this evening.  It smells delicious already.  Sewing is fading into the background for the moment.  Cooking is the order of the day.  Is it possible to combine the two and expend as little energy as possible?  Yes, with the Boxing Day Quiz!

Take a long hard stare at the photo above, showing various shades of yellow, with a couple of shades of not really yellow at all thrown in for good measure.  Bear in mind that the camera can't cope very well with the poor midwinter daylight, and I have done my best adjusting the colour with the pictures editor to try and get the shades as close to real life as possible.

Now it is time to dash to the kitchen and get yourself a plate of cheese and crackers, settle down again and look at the picture, and tell me...

Which of these fabrics is the colour of Cheddar?

No prizes, I'm afraid, but a good excuse for a sneaky quick snack.

The answer will be posted next week.  In the meantime I will be very busy relaxing.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas



                 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will

Sunday, 22 December 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Feather in the Hedgerow


Enlarge the picture and look closely to see the beautiful patterns.

Welcome to Maria, the latest follower - thank you for joining!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

A New Project


It is a while since I started a big project, so earlier this week I rummaged through my bag of beautiful Oakshott shot cottons and striped fabrics to start a new quilt.  The idea is that I will be working with gorgeous colours and using patterns I have already tried out on the free motion experiments I have been doing over the past few months.  This time I am using cotton wadding - for the experiments I used cheap and cheerful polyester - so the finished texture is softer.

These leaves and berries are no known plant, but it grows in great profusion in Fmqland. (Gosh, doesn't that read like England when the double vision sets in after mince pies and one brandy too many).  For the berries I have to thank Aeroflot, and the leaves are scaled down vine leaves.

It is such a great pleasure working with the vibrant colours, and also I have an excuse to try out lots of different variegated threads.  It is a bit of a shame the light is so bad at the moment so I can't get a better photo.

Linking up again to Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and to Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Stash


This picture is a bit embarrassing.  The cupboard is overflowing and I can no longer shut the doors. There is enough pretty cotton poplin to make dresses for 36 toddlers, oddments and plain colours for 103 tea cosies, and plain colours and backing materials for an indeterminate acreage of quilts. Also I have a carrier bag full of my poshest colours, which I am now digging into for a new quilt.

Planning and organisation are not my strongest points, so I have decided to be bold and write down the list that has until now been stored between my ears.  Said and done is not my motto, but if I write something down, then I consider myself obliged to do what I have said I would do. The kick for this decisive action has come from Barbara at Cat Patches with the 2014 NewFO Challenge.  So here is my plan of action, nebulous as it is:-

1.  Use up some of the nursery print fat quarters for a cot quilt, and see if I can then churn out a        few more cot quilts and pram quilts.

2.  Devise a baby dress made from fat quarters.

3.  Make a quilted jacket.

4.  Do a small free motion quilted landscape.

5.  Make a dress for my daughter using her parcel tape alter ego.

6.  Start a wall hanging and make it good enough to enter into an exhibition the year after next.   This is something that has lived for so long in my head and reached such fantabulous proportions that I haven't even put pen to paper to sketch the plans, for fear that the reality will fall too far short of the fantasy.  It is time to get a grip.

Well that is six months taken care of, not necessarily in that order, and not necessarily consecutive. How is that for a get-out clause?  We shall see...

Monday, 16 December 2013

Doll Quilt for Lily from Sharyn in Australia


This pretty little quilt arrived in the post last week from Sharyn in Australia, my November partner on Doll Quilters' Monthly swap.  The theme was quilting with or for children, so I asked Sharyn to make a quilt that I could give to Lily.  Sharyn's timing was perfect.  It was Lily's birthday last Tuesday (she is now a very old lady of 11), the quilt arrived on Wednesday, and I was able to visit Lily and her family on Thursday.  There was a bit of excitement when Lily unwrapped her quilt.  It was beautifully wrapped in a piece of blue fabric, and came with a matching pin cushion.  These tumblers in a lively combination of colours will look lovely on Lily's bedroom wall. 

Later on the same day I was able to post the quilt Lily and I have made for Sharyn, but of course, that is all a big secret until it reaches Australia...

Thank you Sharyn for being a wonderful partner! 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Wild Pansies


There was a great mass of tiny wild pansies at the edge of a field where I often walk.  They will be sure to pop up again next spring.  I love the one on the left with purple ears.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Free Motion Field Maple


Although most of the trees have now lost their leaves, there are still a few field maples giving a splash of yellow here and there.    I brought a leaf home so I could try capturing the shape in outline. After a dodgy start and getting a bad stitch because I had loaded the bobbin in the bobbin case the wrong way round, I managed to settle down to some serious treadling.



The leaf is strategically placed to cover the duff stitching.  I might get round to unpicking it, or I might leave it in as a reminder to keep my wits about me when putting the bobbin in.

Somehow I ended up making the leaves more or less actual size.  Really they needed to have been a bit smaller, so the gaps between the stems and stalks didn't look so empty.


The helicopters were a bit tricky because the wings stick out horizontally.  Perhaps I will leave them out next time, they felt like a bit more fuss than they were worth.


However, I enjoyed doing the leaves, even though they ended up looking a bit more like ornamental acers rather than the field maples in the hedgerows.

Tea cosy update  Carla has emailed me to say that the cosy has now safely arrived in Holland, and she has sent me a lovely photo taken at a free motion quilting class.   Thank you Carla!

This post is being linked to Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday - lots more blogs for you to visit!


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Art Deco Teapot


All I did was stroll past the Salvation Army shop while out shopping, and this teapot was sitting in the window screaming at me to come in and buy it.  How could I resist?


Whichever way you look at it, it is fascinating.  And there isn't a single chip or crack on it anywhere. Neither is there a manufacturer's mark on the underneath, which is a bit puzzling.  I am sure I have seen that lupin design somewhere before.

As if I really need an excuse to make another tea cosy... now I'm bursting to make one in a colour scheme to match this pot.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Doll Quilt from Terry in Indiana


This the quilt that I have received from Terry, my October partner in the Doll Quilters' Monthly swap.

The theme was to show where we live, so Terry chose covered bridges because she lives in an area where there are many to be seen.


The central panel is a section showing the entrance to a bridge.  Although we don't have covered wooden bridges over rivers in this country, this detail does remind me of the bridges at old railway stations.  They had to be covered, otherwise the passengers would have been enveloped in smoke from the steam engines.

Terry tells me that they have many craft fairs in the autumn in the areas where the bridges are. The bridges must be a lovely sight when they are surrounded by all the colours of autumn.

I love the combination of the dark greens and bold red - it definitely gives the feeling of Christmas being on the way! 

Thank you Terry!  You have been a lovely partner.

Welcome to Melanie Varela, the latest follower - thank you for joining!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Green Alkanet


It's a weed, really, with big bristly leaves and tiny flowers.  There is something slightly hypnotic about the shade of blue which prevents me from digging up the plants.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Free Motion Hawthorn Leaves


This panel might look slightly familiar.  I have used exactly the same fabrics as for the tea cosy, but this time the quilted panel is big enough to make two large cosies.  Last time I thought the leaves looked slightly like hawthorn leaves.



This time I did my best to make them look more realistic, with the irregular outline.



Having been on the receiving end of a hawthorn's thorns in the past, I couldn't add in these thorns without memories flooding back of how they feel when they get you under the thumbnail.



At the moment the hawthorns are practically bare of leaves, but have a rich crop of dark red berries, so I have added in a little cluster of berries here and there.

Welcome to Lana Litster, the latest follower - thank you for joining!

Joining up again to Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday
and Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
so there are plenty of other bogs for you to visit...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

On the Bed for Winter

It has just got cold enough to add the extra layer to the bedding, so we now have this quilt on the bed.  I made it about four and a half years ago, doing all the piecing on the machine I inherited from my mum, an 1897 Singer 28K, the star of the first two Youtube videos my husband I made. 

This quilt was the first one I had made for years, and I had not yet worked on quilting at home - lack of time and space had a lot to do with it.  I had the long arm quilting and binding done by Midsomer Quilting.  They did a fabulous job.  It's not such a brilliant idea to have the quilting cutting through the appliqué design, but I wanted the quilt finished, so I didn't care.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Another Charity Shop Find


This interesting length of fabric was bundled up in the corner of a charity shop.  Here it is slung over the clothes rack.  It is 58 inches wide and the pattern is huge.  The large flower is eight and a half inches across.  It has a beautiful silky flow to it, and my first thought was that it was a length of vintage rayon.  The pattern is on a scale that would be ideal on curtains in a large room, but this is definitely material for dressmaking or shawls.  It drapes beautifully.


I haven't washed or ironed it yet.  Fortunately the whole length was clean and unfaded, so I can live with the creases for the time being.


At first sight these are not my favourite colours, but the sheen and drape is so beautiful that the colours become quite fascinating.  The lime green in the leaves and buds really brings it to life.

The only use I can think for it would be to make shawls, but it almost seems a shame to cut into it.  

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Roman Mosaic


This is part of a small fragment of ancient Roman floor mosaic mounted on the wall of the porch of a church in Rome.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Doll Quilt - A Bristol Terrace


This is the quilt that I sent to my October partner, Terry, for the Doll Quilters' Monthly swap.  The theme for the month was to show where you live, so I decided to base the quilt on the coloured houses seen in Bristol - we live just seven miles outside.

I shall cheerfully own up that I had a few tussles with this quilt, with the surprise pleat on the back and the skipped stitches on corners.

I was in a bit of a quandary over the free motion quilting, thinking the meander design on the front of the houses might look like cracked rendering.  In the end it doesn't look too bad, and I varied it with a pebbly design for the ground.

Also there was great frustration with right angles.  I chose the materials for the colours rather the weight.  They were a touch too lightweight, and I just don't do starch, so I had to live with the shifting angles.



But in real life many of these houses have slipped here and there.  Doors can be slightly out of line...


... or well and truly crooked...



...and as for chimneys, they can be all over the place.



My husband and I had a brief discussion about the windows.  He said I had put Georgian windows on Victorian houses.  I said they were early Victorian, so there is hardly any difference.

All told, I was pleased with how it turned out. Someone might look at the bright colours and off angles and think it is badly executed Toytown.  My answer to that would be that this quilt is the nearest I have got to photorealism.  People here who have seen the quilt instantly start debating which part of Bristol it is and which street it shows.  The photos on this Flickr group show the scenes we see every day...

http://www.flickr.com/groups/colouredhousesofbristol/pool/with/9035260579/#photo_9035260579

The house my husband was born in - and still lived in when we met - is in this picture...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/261049/8234408515/in/pool-colouredhousesofbristol/

... fourth house on the right in the long terrace that goes right the way across the picture, and here is a picture actually taken on the street a few doors down from the house...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/crabchick/9324205864/in/pool-colouredhousesofbristol

Up until about twenty years ago most of these houses were grey or very pale colours.  It is only recently that all these bold colours have appeared.  They took some getting used to, but now I rather like them.

Linking up again today with Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

International Tea Time Grand Prize Draw!


What a wonderful tea party it has been!  All your comments have been such great entertainment, so before announcing the winner of the tea cosy, thank you to everybody who took part, and it is time for a few special mentions:-

Esther for being so sporting.  Even though she opted out of the draw (it just wasn't going to fit her teapot) she left a comment in Dutch.  Thanks to Esther and Translate Google my daughter and I no longer say "on the settee" but "op de bank."

Leo in Germany for her little snippet of German followed by her unrestrained enthusiasm for tea.

Mystica from Ceylon (I'm far too old to say Sri Lanka), who gave the cosy a chance to go and live where tea is grown and cricket is played.

Reb Thack for telling me you can get PG Tips in San Francisco.

Pippirose for making me want to try Formosa Oolong.

Melissa for her rather esoteric taste - eggnog chai latte.

Tina A. likewise, for Read My Lips - black tea with vanilla, mint, chocolate, peppercorns and little red candy lips.  It will never catch on in transport caffs.

Anyway, no prizes for spotting that our regular everyday and all day tea is Yorkshire tea, blended by Taylor's of Harrogate.  Available in our local supermarkets, and occasionally it comes with a caddy with Yorkshire scenes on it.



I particularly love this side of the caddy - dry stone walls, sheep, cricket.  All very Yorkshire.

Now, on to the prize draw...



... and because we have a spare caddy, all 72 names went in, carefully folded and all mixed together.  Entrants near to home (Gloucester and Nottingham), from all corners of the USA and Canada, one each from Spain, Norway, Germany, Israel, Ceylon, the Philippines and Malaysia, and from as far away as Australia.  And some from I didn't know where. 

It was all too exciting for me.  I needed help from my totally detached coffee-drinking son.


video

So in the interests of cricket, tea and fair play, here is the video of the draw.  It's gripping stuff.



We are thrilled to announce that the winner of the tea cosy is Carla!

Update - Carla is in Holland!  I now have her address so I can post the tea cosy to her, and she sends everybody her greetings... see her comment at the end of the tea party.

Of course after the draw I was so exhausted I needed a big mug of tea.

Welcome to the latest followers, Prairie Stitcher and Nicole Sender - thank you for joining!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Turning Corners


Have you ever turned a corner, hoping for a nice sharp turn,



but the machine misses a stitch on the turn so the corner is chopped off?

This is what was happening on my last but one project when I was doing a bit of quilting with the Singer 15K hand machine.  I knew there had to be a way of avoiding it, and I have finally worked out how...

When the needle goes into the fabric, before lifting the foot and turning the work, make sure that the needle is still on the way down.  Then once the work is turned and the foot is back down, let the needle complete its downward journey and form the stitch.  So far as I can fathom it out, if the needle is so far down that it is already in the process of forming the stitch when the work is turned, the threads can slip out of place underneath the bobbin plate and the stitch fail.

I won't tell you how long it has taken me to solve that problem.  Too embarrassing.

Welcome to new followers Pippirose, Anna McCurdy, Debbie, Hueisei Ong, Beth, and Alida P - thank you for joining!

Thanks again to everyone who has commented on the Tea Time Give Away.  Time is running out...  midnight tonight GMT... so if you live in the Western hemisphere, don't get caught out!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Beautiful Picture for Sunday - The Monastery at Czestochowa


A beautiful rooftop at the monastery at Czestochowa, taken on 17th August.

Welcome to lots of new followers today - including those whose avatars have popped up... Luanne Pang, Debra Kay Neiman, Sowing Stitches, A. Shipley, Tami C, Lee, Catskill Quilter, Nanbon44, Og19quilt, Dorian, Ytsmom, Kathy H, Debbie Sauer, Gill Watson, Donna Besnahan... and all the followers who have left comments on the Tea Time Give Away.

Thank you to everyone who has left comments and for making it such an entertaining tea party! 




Thursday, 21 November 2013

It's a Tea Time Give Away!


If you saw the post last week showing a free motion quilting practice piece, this little tea cosy will look familiar.  The sewing project I had in mind all went to plan, and I am pleased to be joining in the Quilting Gallery Quilters' Blog Hop Party by giving away this tea cosy, made entirely on two of my favourite machines.  All the free motion quilting was done on the 1945 Singer 15K treadle, and all the rest of the stitching, including the straight line quilting, was done on the 1949 Singer 15K hand machine.

The cosy fits a small teapot.  The photos show a one pint teapot.



Here it is with a large mug, strictly for serious tea drinkers, as it holds three quarters of a pint.



More genteel tea drinkers will prefer a cup and saucer.  In this photo the teapot is out of sight hiding under the tea cosy.

So, if you love tea and would like the chance to win this little cosy to brighten up your tea time, all you have to do is leave a comment before midnight GMT Tuesday 26th November. The winner's name will be announced on Wednesday 27th.  I will post to anywhere in the world...!  

If English isn't your first language, feel free to leave your comment in your own language. Let's make this truly an international tea party!

When you leave your comment, tell me how you like your tea, how many gallons a day, with biscuits or sandwiches... or, if you don't like tea, who you would give this tea cosy to as a present.

And there is a bonus...



... if you are already a follower of this blog, or if you join as a follower before leaving your comment, you qualify for an extra little present.  Although I recognise many followers' names straight away, just help me out please by mentioning that you are a follower.

These three scraps and two strips of bonus triangles will be yours to use in any project you want. So if you think the tea cosy needs a matching table mat, you have a head start.



thank-you-blog-hop-party

Because this blog hop is called Giving Thanks something tells me it might have something to do with Thanksgiving.  Well, even though we don't have Thanksgiving here, it doesn't mean we don't say thank you, so here goes...

A big thank you everyone who visits, follows, and comments on this blog.  I am truly grateful to you all!

And another big thank you to Michele for hosting this blog hop.  I will have to hop around and enter a give away myself!

To give you even more blogs to visit, this post is being linked with:- 

Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday
Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

An Unplanned Pleat


Sometimes, when you finish a piece of free motion quilting and turn the work over, there is a little surprise to jump out at you from the back.  For instance, this little pleat in the border of a doll quilt. This is not quite so annoying as an unplanned fold - there is no unpicking involved if the pleat isn't too drastic.



On close inspection there was also another tiny little fold further away from the edge.



All it needed was a few stitches to make it lie flat.  Once the binding was on it was barely noticeable.  At least, that is what I told myself.  Whether my swap partner agrees is another matter. Now that this quilt has crossed the Atlantic and is with its new owner, she has my full permission to show it to her friends as an example of quilter's fudging.

Welcome to Capi, the latest follower - thank you for joining!

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