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