Sunday, 1 September 2013

Sew Sew Modern swap

Today I have spent the day working on my piece for round 3 of this fun swap. We have had lots of notice for this make, but I struggled a bit coming up with a plan for my partner, but now I am well under way and on target for posting before 13th September. I am trying to not let on to0 much to my partner though on the flickr feed, but am going to leave a bit more in the way of hints in this blog post, just incase she is passing by, as I thought that might be fun. Her choice of item was a bit more specific than normal so I think she could figure it out if she really wanted to.

Anyway I started with a Annela Hoey charm pack and made up some HST's .
Next I added a little bit of hand stitching
and then a bit more detail somewhere else...
this little bird is copied from the fabric design as you can see.
So we will have to see if my partner likes the final result. Have you figured it out yet?


Friday, 30 August 2013

A little bit of improv?


Having given up with back to back viewings of "Homes under the Hammer", I decided I would get the machine out today and see what my jelly roll workings from last Sunday's outing was going to turn into. As I had not bought a jelly roll for Fiona's class last week, but cut some fat quarters which I had bought on holiday, I had originally thought I was just going to make a mini quilt. But having stitched together the first three rows I fell in love with the combination of colours and fabrics and knew I had to take this a bit further and make something a bit larger. My problem was though the white background fabric I had used. I hadn't really measured it before starting and had no idea where I had got it from or what brand it was so it would be a nightmare to match. So lateral thinking was needed. The white was really working for me so I thought I would go for a big area of negative space and then it just sort of grew. I suppose this is what you call improv? 
It is ready for quilting now and bear with me if you think I have gone mad with the large white rectangle. The plan is that the quilting will make this work into the rest of the quilt - perhaps charcoal? What do you think?

I am sorry the picture is a bit ropey, but today is probably the worst day to show of a quilt top that is meant to remind me of sunshine on the beaches of Oregon. The sky is grey and dreich and feels like we have definitely seen the last of summer despite it still being August.
Oregon fun 2013
 Oh and to add to the misery my iron spat a bit brown manky blob of water out just as I pressed it before hanging it out to photograph, so it is currently washing very gently on a cold cycle. I have never washed an unquilted top before. Terrified? That's an understatement...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Gathering Nuts in .... Edinburgh

Well we got there, we are not sure how, but we got there. And oh wow, wasn't it well worth all the effort. The first (and lets hope it it becomes an annual event) Stitch Gathering took place in the beautiful Morningside area of Edinburgh on Sunday, thanks to the very clever and organised Jo of Avery Homestore.
Unfortunately I was having what I like to call a "technical hitch" so was not firing on all cylinders so despite carrying my camera with me and snapping away, I discovered yesterday that I had forgotten to put the SD card in before hand so I have no photos of the event to show you.  But if you pop over to the SG website you will see the pictures taken by the lovely Jonathan Avery, or alternatively Sheila from Bluepatch quilting has today written a lovely post too which is here. I can however show you the contents of the stonking Goody bag we were all given. I have listed as many contributors that I could see at the bottom of this blog so you can see how generous they have all been.
As you can see it was full to the brim with amazingness, from fat quarters, to a whole box of thread, and from buttons to badges. But the "piece de resistance" was the Frixion Erasable Pen. Oh my goodness. This thing is genius. If you haven't got one you need to head right off right now and order yourself one and your life will never be the same. The idea of being able to erase any markings made on fabric simply by ironing over it seemed too good to be true and a few of us were doubting Thomas' until we actually tried it. It really is like a little bit of magic right in front of your eyes. I fear I am a little too excited by this pen, but you just try it and you will see. 

The lovely Mrs P, who joined me for the day at the Gathering, thinks we should write an episode of "Midsommer Murders" based on this pen, once we found out that the marks come back again once exposed to the extreme cold! how clever is that too. How about some deadly deeds occurring down in that fateful village's local quilt group, with the victim leaving a secret message written in Frixion pen on her favourite piece of stitching. The big reveal could be when she is laid out in front of the autopsy doctor. "It was the Swap Mama who did it!" ha ha ha...

Anyway, I cannot thank Jo and her team enough for a great day, which ran so seamlessly. ( See what I did there?) It was great to put some faces to names from blog and flickr land first of all and then we moved on to the classes. We took the cathedral window pinnie course in the morning with Jo herself, which I loved and will now be itching to have another go at. Then after a sumptuous lunch it was Fiona's Jelly roll class in the afternoon. Truth be told, I have used jelly rolls quite a lot, but thought that Mrs P would enjoy this one so wanted to join her too. Fiona's suggested quilt is lovely and features in the special edition of Creative Patchwork this month. A really lovely quilt. I have gone for a grey and orange theme using some fabric from the Lucy's Crabshack range which I bought in Cannon Beach this summer, plus some others from the stash and am not sure how big it will turn out yet, but will of course report back. What do you think?

I think it will be a good souvenir of our trip and its so nice and fresh on the white background. I have even gone for the trickier piecing of the points, as explained by Fiona, but so far I am in luck with it matching. Thanks Fiona for your inspiration.
Anyway, still a bit to do though as you can see so do pop by to see the final top. In the meantime I have a date with a box of steroids and a week of watching "Homes Under the Hammer". See you soon.

Thank you to all the wonderful sponsors for the Goody Bag contents:   Avery HomestoreFrixion pen, by Pilot, Frister & Rossman thread box from, assorted buttons and thread from ,Coats Crafts UK,  Rainbow scrap pack from Veryberry Fabrics,  Hexagon Flower Block by, Liberty Art fabrics, Nairn Oatcakes, Milward needles and pen, Beechwood Quilting, Groves, Robert Kaufman fabrics, Aurifil

Sunday, 18 August 2013

No press please

No stitching yet this weekend but just wanted to share this picture with you of a shy little friend, which I took yesterday. The Beloved and I had headed off to the Borders for an "At Home" with a whole bunch of work colleagues, so I got a chance to play with my new camera.

Remember me telling you last year about the population explosion in the office, with all the chaps having babies? Well this was an opportunity for them to all get together . I think we had something like 20 little ones under 5, which was terrific and I think they had a whale of a time riding on ponies, in the back of tractors and bouncing away to their heart's content.  We were even joined by the odd dog or two but they looked slightly less impressed at the proceedings.

Sadly the weather wasn't on our side as not only was it blowing a hoolie most of the day, which nearly ripped the tent out of it's moorings, but it also tipped it down for a couple of hours right in the middle of the proceedings.  But if there is one thing we lot up here know, that is that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes!
dressed for the rain
One of my favourite moments of the whole day however, was probably the sight of half a dozen or so senior managers cavorting about in a sack race.
Sometimes its  really hard to figure out which ones are the kids.... 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Off to buckle my swash and other festival fun

It is festival time here in Edinburgh and whilst this can make day to day life a bit more tricky if you are a resident, we really should count ourselves lucky to live in an area with probably one of the best arts festivals on the planet.

This year the lovely Jo, over at Bearpaw has worked her little socks off and pulled together the first ever "Scottish Modern Quilt Exhibition". The show, housed in Avery Homestore in the Morningside area of Edinburgh is a fantastic mix of over 60 examples of work from the modern  quilt movement. Jo, as lots of us know, is a brilliant flag waver for the modern quilter and I think she  is doing a cracking job of helping us all along and now also publicising what is going on in the quilting world. I am very very honoured to have a couple of quilts and a cushion included in this great exhibition and am also delighted to share a couple of items I have received through  flickr swaps and bees.

First is the charity quilt from the Together at Do.Good Stitches Charity bee, which I finished off in a mad dash after coming home from holiday. The block I chose for my month of June was the Rocky Mountain block which I think we have all fallen in love with. I also wanted a red white and blue theme and my lovelies in the bee did me proud.

My other quilt exhibit is the low volume quilt, which was based on a fat quarterly pattern. Its not so typically "modern" in its choice of fabrics but Jo has focused the exhibition on not only the more modern style of quilts we are all making and fabrics being used, but also the influence of the Internet and in particular flickr swaps and bees and the like. So i sneaked in by the back door on this category. Pop over to an earlier post and have a peep.

Jo really has done a great job so if your not north of the border pop over here and see the great array.

As for me I am off to see a couple of shows on Saturday with the beloved and then we have a great afternoon out with little Zoe planned. We are off to see "Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaur". Now this could be highlight of my month. What more could you want than both dinosaurs and pirates all in one little show?

 I will report back on who won.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

I know it's been too long, but I am back now

Well hello there. Had you given me up for lost - sold to the quilting slave trade in outer Birmingham in advance of the Festival of Quilts, or impoverished by over eagerness on Etsy. No, it was just a  holiday, oh and a bit of a manic lead up to said holiday beforehand. It is nearly 2 months since my last blog ( sounds like something you might hear at confession ?) and I have been itching to get writing again but there was so  much to do both before and after our trip that I just had to be patient. But now the bags are unpacked, the laundry is done ( but not ironed) and I have had a productive day catching up on my Bee blocks so its time to fill you all in on what we have been up to. 
just a wee taster of our beautiful trip

The beloved and I were lucky enough to head off to the North West of the USA for a great chunk of July and oh my goodness, what a wonderful place. We managed to pack in a little bit of the city, the beach, the high plains and the mountains not to mention lots of wildlife.  If you are not familiar with this part of the world and it seems many that Brits in particular are not, I cannot recommend it enough. We started out in Seattle, which was hot and busy but great fun and then headed south down the coast ( stunning) for a few days then headed inland to the high plains of Bend. Here I had an ulterior motive as the 2nd Saturday in July every year is the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Festival and I had managed to wrangle the date so this was the pivot of the holiday ( my husband is such a  patient man!).
 Sisters has a population of about 2000 the rest of the year but on this one day it is boosted to over 15,000 with visitors from all over, converging to see this great mix of work from all over the world. There certainly was a mixture of styles and my heart was lifted to find not just the traditional quilting that is more common in small town USA. There was  great addition of "Modern Quilting" and the organisers of this extravanaganza, "The Stitching Post" was a fabulous Mecca of all things modern, with every kind of beautiful fabric and pattern you could imagine. A shop with very little beige is the best way I can describe it. Most definitely worth a visit on line too, here. There were of course some which did not suit my taste and JB and I had a competition to see who could spot the ugliest one of all, but of course that would too unkind to divulge here tee hee ( you could always email me if you too are truly wicked too!). It was a very very hot day, but the locals of Sisters have it sussed and so well organised that, despite so many people, we didn't have a moment of stress or quilt-rage, although I would like to send a warning to photographers everywhere. People on mass are camera blind!!! How many of my carefully composed pictures suddenly were bombed by a batty old lady from Florida in dodgy sun hat wandering aimlessly by? Can't even count them....
Next stop after Sisters was the Blue Mountains out in Eastern Oregon, where we stayed on a  beautiful farm with a terrific couple, at the Barking Mad Farm. If there was a way of shipping my family and friends en masse this would be place I would go to retire. Me and the old chap sat on our balcony at night looking our over the fields, to see the buffalo roaming and the larks flitting by, whilst sipping on the local brew picked up an aptly named micro brewery named Terminal Gravity ( you can figure it out I am sure). Idyllic was not the word.  

Our hosts were a hoot and we met some great fellow inmates and I have to say I was sad to leave, but it was time to head back west towards Seattle and our flight home. On our way though we stopped off at a bizarre little town called Leavenworth, which I had visited some 14 years or so ago, but which had stuck in my memory. Deep in the Cascades is this small "Bavarian" themed town, the brain child of some chap back in the 60's who thought a themed town would save it from becoming a ghost of a place. And by George, was he right! It is clearly a popular place to visit and in the most amazing surroundings, but sitting in a restaurant deep in Washington State, with all the signage in German, waitresses are in full dirndls and 95 degrees in the shade, well it is all a little disconcerting. An experience I think JB called it? 

The view front our deck at "Run of the River ", Leavenworth, WA

We adored our lodgings, as the locals like to call them, which was a very smart retreat on the outskirts of the town called "Run of the River". Definitely another recommendation  if you are ever in Leavenworth and want to escape the leiderhossen. It is stunning, very romantic and a joy to stay at. Oh and not for the light hearted breakfast wise.
Anyway, for fear of this turning into a travelogue, we arrived back home to the inevitable end of the first Scottish heat wave in years, torrential rain, a fried garden and three suitcases of washing. But I did have the excitement of trying to find a home for all my quilt shopping ,which as you can see fair filled the dining table.
I went mainly for fat quarters, based on a space and weight analysis ( ever the scientist you see), but managed to sneak in a few cutting blades, some very snazzy zips and a few patterns. These will certainly pop up on the blog in the future so I won't go into details  now, but I would like to give credit to some great shops below which I visited on my journey. Everyone I met was fantastic and perhaps a little intrigued in by the small English woman from Scotland and her large husband. I did not take it personally that they all ( to a woman!) said they adored my husband's accent which was " so much nicer" than mine. At least they didn't think I was Australian on this visit, which has been the norm on previous US trips. We will not of course not mention the unfortunate incident of the Seattle quilt shop who took advantage of a somewhat jet lagged middle aged woman and ripped her off completely, but let's just say she was "Stitched up like a Kipper". For those from across the pond that is not a needlework term....You might like to google it.
 It has since been back to work as normal, but I did have the added excitement this week of a birthday, a tipsy food tasting night at Harvey Nicks in Edinburgh and a lovely new SLR camera from the beloved, so it's not all bad. Bee blocks awaited me on my arrival home and I have spent the day catching up on all the blocks( they are all on flickr if you want to pop by) which I need to get out in the post. Do you know though, it hardly feels like we have been away. But hold on, what's that large pile of fabric still sitting homeless in the dining table, unable to fit in the stash shelves. Oh yes, I remember now.
Fabulous. That's all I can say of Oregon .Fabulous.
The Painted Hills, High Plains, Oregon

  Special thanks for making my retail therapy part of the holiday go to:
 You were all Fab

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

I hope this makes sense.

As part of the Modern Stash Bee it is my turn to find a block for the hive to make and I have chosen a cracker made by Janine over at Running Hare Quilts. Its called Twirling Asterisk which is a brilliant name too! I thought it was pretty stunning but as part of the bee I have needed to pull together a tutorial. I have found this quite scary, as the rest of the girls in the bee are real pro's and I was afraid my insructions would be too obvious. Equally though I wanted to write it so that a newcomer could follow easily too, so its been a very tricky balance. As I've not done this before I am going to sit back now and let you all to be as critical as possible of the instructions please. It is a bit of a learing curve for me but I am really keen to write some more so I need as much help as I can get.
Hope you like the block by the way. I am really excited to see what my bee buddies make of it and what turns up via flickr and ultimately the postie. The tutorial can be found here..... and please give me lots of feed back

Friday, 31 May 2013

Nuts in May

Linking up with Lily's quilts Fresh sewing day
There's an old saying that goes " May comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb", but I would say that in 2013, May came in with a splosh and went out with a dribble. We've been blown about, washed away and then in a brief hour one Thursday, burnt to a crisp. Probably not what we all had in mind for one of the favourite month's of the year and to  say its been an unpredictable month would be an understatement. However I am pleased to say the inclement weather hasn't stopped us from having one of the most hectic, but productive months for a long time.
May round up
In between clocking up the miles on trips to see all the gang, enjoy some live theatre and three music gigs ,(phew!), I managed to finish off not only the Sew Sew Modern  and Pretty Little Pouch Swaps but also to get all my bee blocks out and away to their new homes. The Postman must love me at the moment I reckon.
The block in the middle is the one chosen by Happy Go Lizzie for the Modern Stash Bee, called Rocky Mountain Puzzle, and this block is completely addictive. I have become hooked on these little lovelies. So much so that I have chosen it for my up and coming month in charge in the Together at Do.Good Stitches Bee. I hope the rest of the team like it as much as me. It is so quick and easy but looks really effective I think. There are some more great examples of how they can turn out, both  here and here.
So that was May. June promises to be calmer and I am desperate to get out into the garden so, as inspiration, I am off to "Gardening Scotland" on Sunday. First of all though I have a tutorial to write for another block which hopefully won't be too tricky, but pop back soon and I will let you know. Toodle loo!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Up up and away

I promised at the end of the last blog that weather permitting, I would have a lovely adventure to report on and shock horror- the weather held out and look what I got to do.
The beloved JB had bought me the trip in a balloon as a Christmas present back in 2011 and the last summer had been so appalling that the trip was cancelled 6 times. I was actually beginning to give up hope that I was ever going to get my feet off the ground without the aid of a turbine engine but wow - when the weather played the game, it really played the game.
We had to be at the launch area in the Scottish Borders for 5.30 a.m. on Saturday which meant us getting up at 3 am. Now I am not a morning girl on the best of times and the idea of this ungodly time made my heart sink, especially after a night out but hey ho. If it meant I got my elusive trip so be it. So after 4 hours sleep we headed off to the border town of Biggar and the adventure began.
As you can see it was a tad frosty, with a low of -2 degrees when we took off, but I didn't care as I was wearing virtually all my wardrobe in one go. Layers upon layer upon layer. This paid off though as I was cosy warm floating about up there the ether. There was not a cloud in the sky and the views over Biggar and the surrounding areas were stunning.

I loved every minute of the trip, even the landing, which was probably the most fearful part of the trip as far as I was concerned. It was as smooth as smooth can be and nothing compared with the average  gusty landing at Turnhouse in mid November. The 18 month wait may have been a long time, but in the end it was well worth that wait for a flight on the most amazing morning of the year. If you get the chance to have a trip yourself do not hesitate. You will find it a serene, beautiful and a most fun filled experience. I cant finish however without a mention for our pilot, Celia Morley, who was a hoot and made all of us first time flyers very welcome and relaxed. What a girl!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Zombie Weekend

No sewing this weekend- just lots of gadding about.
gorgeous Millenium Bridge on the Tyne ( No Fog )
We kicked off with a trip down to Newcastle and a visit to The Sage . If your not familair with Newcastle, the Sage is an arts venue built (I think as part of the Millenium rejuvenation etc) on the banks of the River Tyne. It's a bit of a stunner of a building from the outside and was even more impressive inside, so be sure to add it to your lists of "to do's" when you are in the area. We were there to see a very long standing band called " The Zombies". Nothing to do with the undead,  but a small combo with their lead signer Colin Blunstone being a great favourite of mine from way back in my schools days. In fact I have a very boring story about accosting him in Oxford Street, outside Bourne & Hollingworth's in 1975, along with 4 other 17years old girls but I won't bore you now. Needless to say you need a trip along to You Tube to hear his incredible voice and when you do, bear in mind he still sounds this way at 67! Hope I wear  as well!
Anway, dinner first before the gig was humungous, accompanied by Emily and her boy and perhaps the addition of a few libations in the bar before and after.
Next stop on saturday was a bit of hard core (excuse the pun) DIY, again care of Emily and the lovely Jonathan. They are still doing some serious renovating of their house and it was time to rip down a wall or two so it was sledge hammers to the fore. As you can see H&S regimes were adhered too, on pain of death from the beloved JB...

Emily doing her impression of Bale

After a quick rub down with  an oily rag, we headed back north and managed to sneak in a quick trip to see grandaughter and co and stuff ourselves with even more food by way of a giant indian (not literaly I might hasten to add), before collapsing into bed tired but happy.

Next morning we were up bright and early to meet up with Pepper-Ann for lunch and a drive out to the hills, as it was time to start looking for her wedding venue . All very exciting stuff as you can imagine. Managers were quizzed, suites were surveyed and a decison was made, so that's it now - all set in stone. The Big Day is fixed. So its full steam ahead Mrs Seamstress. Oh, that's me? Cue "time to panic" then.

Anyway, as I said it was an action packed weekend in which we managed to pack in visits to three offspring out of the five. We would have actually had an 80% result if the weather hadn't been so shocking, as had hoped for a  diversion to Dumfrieshire but it was not to be. However whilst on that subject, if you are reading this blog piece Mrs G Mark II, the title of this piece is just for you ....

So see you all again soon I hope, after another upcoming weekend of weather dependent excitement.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Peek-a-boo quilt

Had a great great day on Sunday. It was quilt class day over at Avery Homestore  (also known as Bearpaw classes )which I had been looking forward to all week.  I packed up my pins, strapped down my faithful machine and headed my little old car off to sunny Morningside nice and early in keen anticipation and I am glad to say I wasn't to be disappointed.

Claire deep in concentration on her blocks
The class of the day was the "Peek-a-boo" quilt which makes me chuckle whenever I say it (sorry I know, pathetic isn't it) and is a based on a technique which was shown at a tutorial at last year's Fat Quarterly Retreat in London, rather than some odd fetish for dodgy lingerie.
Jo (there are a lot of us in this piece- just warning you now), our lovely host, has put her own twist on the quilt and so we had a choice to make either the original or her own more grown up petal version. Jo blogged about her quilt last year which you can read all about here, and of course see her great shots of the finished thing. 
I went for the original version, which is more for little people as I wanted to use a cracking piece of Japanese fabric which I had picked up in the most amazing shop in France last summer. Three of my new quilting buddies for the day Sasha, Ann and yet another Jo went for the grown up versions and these are a couple of the blocks they made, which as you can see are in stunning colour combos. Really looking forward to seeing how they turn out (apologies for the rubbish quality of the pictures though, but I struggled with the light in our room)
I managed just 2 whole blocks and two thirds of another and am itching to get the others finished,  but you know me, too many projects on the go all at once. I will try very hard to come back with the completed quilt really soon - swaps, bee blocks and oh perhaps work allowing.
ps the bottom one is squinty as its not trimmed yet- just in case you think my cutting is really rubbish
Jo does a great job with her classes and you can see more of her stunning work on her blog. And of course don't forget she is organising the exciting Stitch Gathering in August, which is now SOLD OUT!!! Can't wait and hope to see some of you there. 
see you soon

Friday, 10 May 2013

Hold the front page...

Well actually, it's page 38!
If you have laid your hands on the Special Bag issue of  Popular Patchwork this month you will see an article all about our lovely friends over at Beechwood Quilting. It's a great piece written by Gillian  Cooper, relating her experience of trying her hand with a Longarm machine for the first time.  

You might remember my ramblings some time ago about the same experiences and how helpful and lovely Brian and Carole are in hand holding on your journey with their beautiful beast of a machine.  I am really pleased for them to see this piece in the mag and I hope this encourages a few more novices to pop along and give it a go.  You will definitely get the bug once you try, and if you're like me quilting anything bigger than a baby quilt is always too much of a challenge on a straight forward machine.I myself am well overdue a visit and a taste of the obligatory and wonderful flapjacks always on offer.  I can't see that these delicacies were however extended to Gillian, so she needs to beetle back there a bit sharpish in my opinion as she missed out on one of the other highlights of her visit. Oh, and if you turn to page 40 you might recognise the short bespectacled old bird standing alongside lovely Carole....