Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Away With The Fairies!

My new FAL list contains two new items which makes a pleasant change, don't you think?!

The first one is a Sakura shawl, using this beautiful alpaca/silk mix:

Yarn for Sakura shawl

Lynz and I are knitting in tandem (and holding each other's hands through the tricky bits!) in a very informal knit along which, at the moment, has a lovely slow pace to it!  The yarn was found by Lynz at Maple Tree Yarns and was a bit of a bargain as it's no longer going to be stocked - there are a few skeins left in the shop and when it's gone, it's gone!  My yarn is 'Drake' and is gorgeous but hard to photograph, or that's my excuse!

After a slightly sticky start (we had to email the designer for help with a couple of things, most particularly where to do a make one left and where to do a make one right and Leila Raabe* couldn't have been more helpful - she emailed back within a few hours and spelt things out for us and didn't make us feel at all daft.  This is one of the many reasons I love indie designers - not only are their patterns gorgeous (and well tested!) but their pattern support tends to be marvellous!)

* Warning: if you follow this link be prepared to fall in love several times over!  I have already made a mental list of things I want to make!

So far, Lynz and I have done our set-up rows and the first twelve rows of the pattern (I told you we were taking it steady!) and mine looks like this:

Sakura shawl - a start

It doesn't look much yet but I can already see the pattern forming and it's lovely!  I've also learnt two new stitches (a 3 from 1 (where you knit into the stitch two rows below) and SSP) and it's nice to add to my limited knitting repertoire/skills while getting a head start on Christmas presents!

The second new item on my FAL list is a niece for my youngest niece.  She's been in a 'big girl' (i.e. single!) bed for quite a while now (well over a year) but is still waiting for a quilt to go on it.  Her birthday is in July and I've decided that my present to her will be her quilt.  Given that I have less that four months to cut, piece and quilt it, I've designed a very simple quilt so that I have a fighting chance of making my deadline.  It's based on the Stained Quilt by Sarah; I've made a version of this quilt before (find it here but please excuse the shocking photo!) and enjoyed it so much that I'm making it again.  One day I'll make Sarah's original pattern but for now I'm enjoying designing my own blocks, based around the fabric I have/want to use.

The quilt is based around two panels of Butterfly Dance (by Natalie Lymer/Cinderberry Stitches), includes lots of pink fabrics (my pink scrap box is considerably emptier than it was!) and Kona Daffodil for the sashing.  I need 28 15" blocks for the quilt (it has to be large enough to cover the bed from tip to toe, including pillows!) so I've designed seven blocks and am making four of each block.  As I only have eighteen 'fairy' squares (I know they're really butterflies but I can't help but think of this as 'The Fairy Quilt' so I'm calling them fairies!), one each of block designs one to six won't have a fairy square and block seven has been designed to not need them.

I started piecing the block seven designs first, partly because I cut/prepped the blocks in numerical order so these were at the top of the pile and partly because these blocks have the most pieces so I thought it would be nice to get them done at the start and then have the blocks get faster to make from there on in!

So far I've pieced these twelve blocks:

'block 7' blocks
Block seven A, B, C and D
'block 6' blocks
Block six A, B, C and D
'block 5' blocks
Block five A, B, C and D

and I've also pieced block 4D but I'll show you that when its friends are pieced!

I'm hoping to have all the blocks pieced by the end of the first week in May so that I can faff round with the layout and then start sashing and joining them together by mid-May.  Wish me luck!

Speaking of luck...

I won a giveaway over at Stitched in Colour and received six gorgeous yellow FQs from Marmalade Fabrics:

Prize from Stitched In Colour/Marmalade fabrics giveaway
Thank you Rachel and Tammy!

I've finally got round to sorting out my Kona colour card.  I've been wanting to cut it up for quite a while but didn't have all the colours (I missed the 2013 new colours) and found it difficult to find the weight of card that I wanted at a price I was willing to pay (ditto velcro)!  One of the things I bought with the Fat Quarter Shop voucher I won with the FAL last year (beginning of this year?) was a summer 2013 charm pack.  I made my own little cards for the 28 colours I was missing, as well as for the 2014 insert I got from Simply Solids and, while I was at it, I also made a 2013 supplement for a couple of friends who were also lacking those colours:

Kona summer 2013 colour 'supplements'

And now, after a ridiculous amount of velcro (and some mount board from my local stationers), my colour card looks like this:

I finally got round to sorting my colour card!

I can't imagine that the colours will stay in order but just in case I need to know the 'correct' order, I've printed out a list of them to keep at the back of the file:

A list of Kona colours in order, just in case I ever need it!

It proved invaluable when choosing the sashing in the fairy quilt as I could put all the possibilities on various pink fabrics and choose the best, without wondering whether the colours either side were affecting my perception.

Archie is enjoying the mild spring weather:

Fast asleep
He might not look it but he was sound asleep when I took this photo - if you listen carefully you can hear the whiffle which accompanies this state!

Thanks for popping in, I'm off to do a spot of hand quilting (on my hexy quilt) before I go to bed!

Monday, 6 April 2015

FAL Q1 2015 - Four Finishes!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

I feel I've done quite well this quarter, particularly when you take into account that I've probably spent more time asleep than awake in the last three months.  And that my machine was out of action from just after putting the binding on the Dresden mini (end of January) until about a week ago - that's why most of my finishes only required hand sewing (or no sewing at all, in one case!).  My list is here, in case you fancy seeing what I didn't finish!

My first finish was this mini for Yvonne:

(Finally) Finished!!
Sorry about the dreadful photo but that's the middle of a dreary day for you!

This was machine pieced, hand appliquéd, embroidered and hand quilted.  It measures about 14" square (I think, I can't quite remember now!) and has a couple of extra layers of wadding behind the centre to give a bit more texture.  You can find out more about it in this post.

My next finish was my clock:

Patchwork clock

This is 12" square and the gubbins to make it (canvas block and clock doings (mechanism?!)) were kindly provided by Nicky.  I hand pieced the hexagon and background and then appliquéd the hexagon in place.  It was then stretched over the canvas and is held in place with lots of drawing pins.  You can find out more about it in this post.

I then (finally) worked out what to do with an embellished felt square (embroidery and appliqué was done, by me(!), about three years ago.  Possibly more *hangs head in shame*):

Felt square

In the end, I added a simple back, loops and a cocktail stick and it's now on the wall.  You can read more about it in this post.

My final finish (and the one which I'm linking up in this post) for this quarter is this beautiful machine print by Emily:

Sewing machine print
This print was a present from Susan - thank you!

I've had this print for a while now and couldn't work out what I wanted to do with it - did it want to be a machine cover?  No, it did not.  Did it want to be a cushion?  And be potentially exposed to tea stains?  Absolutely not.  Did it fancy being a machine mat?  What, and be hidden when in use?  Most definitely not.  Then what did it want to be?  'Oh, that's easy,' it replied, 'I want to be on the wall where I can be admired by all and sundry!'

Once that was sorted, my friend and I got busy with her (electric) staple gun (a little scary but very effective!) and a canvas block which had been languishing in the loft and which was, happily, the perfect size.  Many, many staples later (and a coat of PVA glue to seal the raw edges on the back) and the print was finished and ready to go on the wall:

Finally up!
As this final finish didn't, in the end, require any stitching, I'm going to leave it to Adrianne's discretion about whether it can be counted as an official FAL finish.

This is how my 'wall of minis' looks at the moment:

Felt square - on the wall
Minis made by various friends (and a few by me) - ignore the black mark above the clock, that's where the bookcases used to be tied to the wall.  I'm not going to bother filling it in (at the moment), I'm just going to cover it with another little quilt!

I really must get round to putting some more pins in that banner (by Nicky) and moving my other banner (by Sheila) to this wall!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend - the sun came out yesterday and it was glorious!  (There was blue sky and everything!)  Today there's no sky.  Well, there is but you can't see it for the low cloud...

Archie enjoyed the sun yesterday - this was taken at about midday, before the sun decided to show more than just a leg:

What do you mean, the Easter Bunny doesn't deliver to dogs?
What do you mean, 'The Easter Bunny doesn't visit dogs?'  I've been waiting all morning to catch a glimpse of him.

I'm just putting the finishing touches to my quarter two list; it hasn't taken long as most of it is carried over from this quarter.  Which was carried over from the previous quarter, which...

I'll clear my list one day, I hope!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A Felty Finish!

I'm quickly popping in to register a FAL finish before the deadline.  (Yes, this is an honest-to-goodness attempt at a short post!)

I first added this project to my FAL list in the third quarter of 2013 and I've done nothing with it until now.   This is how it has looked for about two years:

Felt picture
I can't find a photo of the square by itself...

I think part of the problem was that I didn't really know what to do with it.  At first it was going to be a pin cushion, but I didn't have enough of the pale blue felt to make one with 'walled' sides, which was my intention.  Then it was going to become the top of a box, but I didn't really need a box!  Then it was going to go in a frame, but I didn't like the way it looked behind the glass.

In the end I decided that I definitely wanted it on the wall but I also wanted on the wall by itself, i.e. no frame, no canvas block, etc.  I had a square of the pale blue felt so I cut that down a little (I took 3/16" off the top and side so that it wouldn't show on the front) and then slip stitched it to the back of the embellished square (I just caught the back of the front square with my stitches as I didn't want anything to show on the front).  I added two thread loops to it (for hanging) and slipped a cocktail stick through them to act as a hanging rod:

Felt square - back
The back of the embellished square

And then stuck two push pins in the wall and balanced the square on them (probably the hardest part of the whole thing!):

Felt square
In good company with minis from my friends (the seaside mini next to it is by Sheila)

I'll show you the whole 'wall of minis' (which is a definite work in progress, just how I like it!) next time as I have another finish on there that I haven't yet blogged about.  (Here's my 2015 FAL Q1 list.)  I'm planning to post a 'round-up of Q1' post either tomorrow or Monday and will link up my final finish then.

Archie has been taking advantage of some sunny afternoons whilst keeping an eye on the comings and goings in the street:

Enjoying the sun
I do like to lie on the front grass and watch the world go by.  Okay, technically I'm on next door's garden at this point but they don't mind!!

for popping in, I'm linking with Adrianne, why not have a look at all the projects that have been finished in the last three months - it's quite an impressive list!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Catching up: Outgoing!

At the back end of last year I had a sudden flurry of things I needed to make which made for a very busy December and am only now catching up with blogging about them!

First up were 'under bed den' curtains for my eldest niece.  She got a 'mid bed sleeper' bed (an odd name for a bed but that's what they're called!) in the summer and asked me if I could make her some curtains for it - I said I'd have them finished by Christmas at the latest but didn't get the measurements until the beginning of December so I had a frantic few days of fighting with slippery voile and metres of ribbon.  They turned out well, though:

under bed den curtains
I don't know why I had fifteen metres of voile in my loft but I have enough left to make another set of curtains, should her sister get a similar bed and want some!

Also needed was a book bag tag for my youngest niece, to help her identify her navy blue book bag in a pile of thirty-nine navy book bags.  She first asked for a pink dinosaur and then changed her mind and wanted 'Holly from Ben and Holly'.  Naturally, I spent quite a while with tiny pieces of fabric and made a Holly.  The first thing she said when she opened it was 'I thought it was going to be a dinosaur'  *bangs head on table and weeps*  No, I didn't make a dinosaur and yes, she's quite happy with Holly!  The book bag tag is just under three inches square and is made using scraps of fabric, fusible web, wadding and ribbon left from her sister's curtains:

As if by magic...
 Yes, some of those pieces are tiny - I don't know how I managed it but I didn't lose any!

My eldest niece also asked for a Union Flag/Jack cushion - she'd seen a miniature version and asked for one of her own, in pink, purple and lime.  Each time we talked about it the cushion got bigger and in the end I made her a pillow-sized cushion which I thought would be perfect for sitting on under her bed.  I finished it a few days before Christmas and immediately washed, dried and wrapped it and didn't get another photo - this was taken when I still had one side of the binding left to stitch down:

Almost finished!
I had been going to just quickly quilt the flag but then got sucked into doing at least three times as much as I'd planned - the texture is lovely, though!

Quilted cushion top - the back
A better photo of the quilting
As I'd done so much quilting on the front, I decided that the back needed an equal amount of quilting.  I didn't really have time for it but it needed to be done!

Almost finished - the back
I happened to have the perfect shade of pink Aurifil 50 in my thread stash - I love it when that happens!

Of course, if I'm making a cushion for one niece, I have to make a cushion for the other so I got sketching and designed a 'Mammy and Baby' owl cushion.  I finished stitching the binding down on 23rd December at about 11pm and immediately put it in the wash and stayed up until the end of the (fortunately quick) cycle so that I could put the cushion cover in the airing cupboard overnight and then get it wrapped.  I didn't manage to take a photo of it with a pillow inside, nor did I get a photo of the back (vertical wavy lines with pink binding on the overlap) but here are the owls:

Finished, washed and dried!
All made from scraps and leftovers - the blue Oakshott background was left from the back of the Stingy Siblings Together quilt.

The quilting took quite a while (all those ends to finish off!) but it was worth it.  Both cushions have a double layer of wadding on both the front and the back - a great way to used up odd strips of wadding that you're left with after a quilt has been trimmed!

Owls are quilted - the back

The frantic sewing was well worth it as my eldest niece (7 years old) opened her cushion and hugged it to her.  She then danced round the room with it, exclaiming 'I love my cushion!  Who loves my cushion?!' - the memory of that still makes me smile!

There was one final Christmas make, which came as even more of a surprise than the cushions (at the end of November I wasn't making any Christmas presents and by the beginning of December I was making two big cushions and then on the 21st December, another present was added!) - I'd ordered (on behalf of my mam) a knitted shawl kit for my sister-in-law (just a very simple but beautiful triangular shawl - a proper 'beginner' knit) and when it arrived I was really disappointed in how it was presented.  (In my mind, a 'kit' means that it is presented nicely and you get a little bit more (in terms of wrapping) than you would if you were buying 'supplies to knit this item'.  This 'kit' consisted of three balls of yarn and an A4 instruction sheet (printed in colour and then folded into quarters) in a plastic ziplock bag - I later worked out that the mark up on this kit was around £7 as I could have bought the pattern from Ravelry and printed it out and bought the yarn separately.  Needless to say, I will not be shopping with this shop ever again - I didn't get a confirmation email about my order, I didn't get a dispatch email and when, a few days after ordering, I emailed to check that the order had gone through and quoting the lack of confirmation/posting email as possible evidence that something was amiss, the reply said that 'your item has been posted' emails were an eBay process and not something this shop did as they were a small shop...overall, it wasn't the best shopping experience I've had and is nothing like any other experience I've had from a small, independent seller.  Thank goodness it's in the minority!)  Anyway, to get back to the story, I offered to make a drawstring bag for the yarn, in return for Mam decorating my Christmas tree - it was 21st December and my tree still only had lights on as I was so busy sewing, a skills swap was the only way it was going to get decorated!!  I used the method of this tutorial but altered the dimensions to create a project bag (I have them somewhere in case I need them again, I'm just not sure where that somewhere is - hopefully it's with all my other 'I might need this again' sewing instructions/notes but I can't guarantee it at the moment!) and added heavyweight sew-in interfacing to the back of the outer fabric, which means the bag holds its shape, a very handy feature for a project bag.  I think I'm going to make more of these but will alter how the drawstring casing is created, to eliminate raw edges coming into contact with the drawstring.

Project bag
Please excuse the awful photos - by the time I realised I hadn't taken a photo, Mam had already wrapped it so we had to cut through the sellotape, slide the bag out of the paper and  then slide it back in...no time to run an iron over it or wait for daylight!

After Christmas, I needed to make good a promise I'd made back in May 2014: to make a 'something' for Yvonne, to say thank you for my lovely cushion.  I had some fat eighths of this fabric (I think it's by 3 sisters for Moda) and decided to make (my first) Dresden plate - I wanted it to look like a flower so made a double plate, one pale pink for the 'petals' and one green for the 'leaves'.  I used the EZ Dresden ruler and cut the inner blades 0.75" shorter than the outer blades - I made both plates separately, appliquéd the green plate to the background and then the pink plate on top of that.  The yellow centre was then appliquéd in place and two layers of wadding were put behind it to add a trapunto effect to the centre of the 'flower' and then I added embroidery (stem stitch around the edge of the yellow centre and the pink plate and colonial knots around the edge of the green plate), hand quilting and then a narrow binding.  I then had a bit of a wobble as the lines I'd added with a Hera marker (to help me get the hand-quilted zigzag even) didn't wash out so, after a lot of thinking and a brilliant suggestion from a friend, I added some tiny French knots along those lines - I used two different colours (one for the lines coming from the points and another for the lines coming from the valleys) to give it a bit more depth and, as is quite often the way with these things, I much prefer with the added embroidery and I'm really glad the lines didn't wash out.  At least I am now, I wasn't at the time!  In-progress photos can be found here.  The drama didn't end there as I managed to post the parcel to Yvonne's old address and I spent a few days on tenterhooks, worrying that it was lost forever, but fortunately the lovely lady who now lives in the house took it round to Yvonne's new house - phew!

(Finally) Finished!!
Dresden mini for Yvonne - about 14" square

(Finally) Finished!! - detail
Close-up of the embroidery

This is an item on my FAL Q1 list and I'll be linking up with Adrianne at the end of the quarter, which is rapidly approaching!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Archie started the week in an ideal manner:

Starting the week the right way
How better to spend a Monday than wrapped up in three quilts?!
Yes, the rest of him is there somewhere; yes, he did this himself; no, it's not my bed - he has his own quilts (duvets really, but I don't like that word!) to keep him warm!  And yes, he's completely wrapped up again today - there's no point in taking a photo as you can't see hide nor hair of him!

Thanks for popping in!

Monday, 2 March 2015

What's the time, Mr Wolf?

Fresh Sewing Day

In August last year, Nicky had a project published in the Fat Quarterly zakka issue (issue 18) - she made a clock (I've looked for a photo of it/blog post about it but can't seem to find one, sorry!).  She kindly sent me the canvas and clock gubbins to make my own and I've finally got round to it!

I decided to (hand) piece a hexagon block which had twelve segments so that it would be easy to tell the time.  Choosing this block also meant that I didn't need to cut a hole in the middle for the spindle - I simply stopped stitching an eighth of an inch before the centre of the block (to create a hole approximately a quarter of an inch in diameter) and, obviously, didn't do my usual circling of the intersection.  I used three 10" 'Miss Kate' squares (by Bonnie and Camille, for Moda - these were a present from a fabric fairy) and have a few small scraps left for future projects:

Plan B
You can't see the central hole in this photo but it is there, just hidden by the seam allowances!

I then hand pieced a background from the remains of a fat quarter and some of the red and orange scraps left from the star:

Plan B part ii
Awful photo but most of the strip is red, with a touch of orange on the right-hand side - you can see it better in the next photo.

And then (hand) appliquéd the hexagon in place:

Plan B - complete!

I covered the canvas (12" square) with a layer of Warm and White wadding (secured on the back with masking tape) and then, with the help of a friend who is the possessor of a 'straight eye' (something I wish I had!) and many, many drawing pins, it was stretched over the canvas and pinned in place on the back:

Patchwork clock
It keeps good time, once I got the 'levels' of the three handles right - at first they kept bumping into each other!

I'm really pleased with this little project which was quite quick to make (compared to some of my other projects, at least!  This was finished in just over three weeks and at least a week of that was the gap between finishing the appliqué and seeing my straight-eyed friend so I could have finished it much faster if I had a straight eye.  Or if I'd used a solid background!)

Thanks for the inspiration and necessary equipment, Nicky!

This is a finish on my Finish Along list (my list is here) and I'll be linking up with Adrianne when the time comes.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Spring is definitely on its way, isn't it?  (Although March has definitely come in like a lion...roll on the lamb!) I've been out in the garden checking on all my plants and giving them encouragement, as well as (mentally!) putting each one into one of the following categories: definitely dead/possibly dead/definitely alive/too early to tell - a little stock take, if you like!  There are fewer plants on the definitely/possibly dead list than on all the others, which is always a bonus!

I planted up several pots of spring flowering bulbs last autumn and am starting to see the fruits of my labour - these dwarf iris are definitely my favourite at the moment and I'm planning to get some more in September:

Dwarf iris

Archie had a birthday in February (he's now fifteen!) and he celebrated with a hedgehog:

Birthday present!
 I think we're going to be good friends, don't you?  No, I'm not licking my lips.  Honest!

Give me it now!!
Now?  Can I say hello now?!

I'm sorry, did you say something?
Did you say something?  No, hedgehog isn't hurt, we're just playing...

I'm going to eat his feet first and then work my way up to his head...
Yum yum!  Isn't this game fun, hedgehog? You like your feet being chewed, don't you?!!

I'm linking up with Lynne for Fresh Sewing Day and hope to be back relatively soon (before the month is out at the very least!) to continue with my catch up and show you the Christmas presents I made - yes, I'm that far behind with my blogging!!

Thanks for popping in!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Catching up: Incoming!

It's been a while since I blogged - I foolishly thought that I would get back here before Christmas but was suddenly very (ridiculously!) busy making unexpected Christmas presents (more about that in my next post) and then January and February have been full of feeling horrid, spending afternoon after afternoon in bed and trying to claw back some energy.  (For those of you who don't know, I have M.E. which means, among other things, that I 'spend' my (limited) energy quickly (even on 'little' things like brushing my teeth) and it takes me a long time to recover from exertion (mental or physical), leaving me feeling like death warmed over.  It tends, for me, to be particularly bad after Christmas as all the present buying and wrapping, little bits of socialising, etc., leave me exhausted and I don't usually 'bounce back' until around Easter) which means that I don't tend to have any energy left for blog writing, even though I've really missed it and you!)

In order to try to be here more frequently (and it would be hard to be here less frequently and still say that I have a blog!), I'm trying a new, for me, way of writing my blog posts: I'm uploading photos to Flickr on a regular basis and writing titles, tags and descriptions as I go. Then, as well as filing them into my usual albums, I'm putting them in a 'pending' album so that when I'm up to writing a blog post, the photos are ready and waiting.  A few days ago I copied and pasted all the codes into a draft post so that now I'm able to write a few sentences (or a whole post), I can get straight on with that rather than faffing with adding photos and getting them centred, etc.  It remains to be seen whether it's any better than my usual 'do it all at once and then be too exhausted to do anything else for a week or so', but I think it's worth a go!

As I'm so far behind with my blog, I thought I'd do three posts to catch up - one (this one) for lovely things I've received in the past couple of months, one for the things I've made (yes, there have been some!) which were for other people, and one for the rest of it.  Then my hope is that, with my new regime (gosh, doesn't that sound organised?!), I can manage to blog more frequently (yes, I said that before.  More than once.) and then maybe I won't have to keep doing catch up/extra long posts.  Let's just park that there and come back to it in six months, shall we?  You have my permission to assess my progress on this target in August...be kind!

Right *claps hands* Let's get cracking, shall we?

In December, I was lucky enough to win a prize in the Scraptastic Tuesday link up (you can see what I linked up in my next post!) with Nicky and Leanne and I won these lovely mini charm packs from Justine and Lisa at Simply Solids:

Scraptastic Tuesday prize!
Cushion?  Baby quilt?  Who knows but I'm going to have fun deciding!

Also in December, this wonderful book arrived, which I won from Jacquie Gering, who has a wonderful log cabin-based quilt in it:

Look what's just arrived!
Far too long has been spent flicking through this and thinking of new quilts to make!

December was a good month for lovely things arriving at my house as my brilliant penguin cushion arrived from Joanne.  I had been eyeing up the Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays book ever since I first saw Joanne's polar bear and penguin cushions but had never got round to buying it.  Then, in a stroke of luck, I won Joanne's giveaway and the prize was my choice of cushion based on Joanne's past cushion makes.  Of course, I picked a penguin or polar bear cushion but couldn't decide which so left the decision to Joanne.  I was thrilled when this chap appeared at my door:

He's here!!!
He looks a little puzzled in this photo (I think it was the rapid journey north!) but he soon settled in!

He (and he's definitely a he) still needs a name, though.  I was going to call him Percy but then remembered that Joanne had a penguin called Percy.  Then I chose Pete, before realising that Joanne also had a Pete the Penguin.  That left me stumped and I haven't managed to think of another name for him - if you have any ideas, please shout!

A month or so later, this fabulous cushion arrived from Sarah, again it was a prize in a giveaway (I seem to be going through a lucky patch at the moment, long may it continue!!):

Cushion from Sarah!
Made from Happy Go-Lucky, the first half of which  aptly describes how I feel when I look at this cushion!

My settee of friends just keeps getting better and better!!  (Ignore the brown box behind the settee, it's the mirror my mam got me for Christmas, which needs putting up!  I really need to learn how to use a drill and which rawlplugs to use where!)

My settee of friends!
Clockwise, starting at the back: Joanne, Yvonne, Leanne, Trudi and Karen, Sarah.

Also arriving through my letterbox was a parcel from Trudi (yes, another giveaway!), containing an Aurifil 'Gleeful' thread collection and some fat quarters of Priory Square by Katy Jones and I can confirm that it's even better in real life than it is in photos, which takes some doing!  What you never get from photos is a feel for the beautiful quality of  fabric from Art Gallery Fabrics, which well deserve their tag line of 'Feel the difference' - you really can!  (Take a tip from me: if you have no intention of buying fabric when you pop into a quilt shop for thread or whatever, then never, ever pick up a fat quarter of AGF as you won't be able to put it down.  Several fabrics have followed me home because I failed to take my own advice.)

Aurifil thread collection (Gleeful by Caroline Hulse) and AGF Priory Square (by Katy Jones)
Once I've stopped admiring this fabric I may be able to put it in the wash and then make a decision about what to make.  Until then, I'm having fun looking at it!

Then, to round off my winning streak, I won a voucher for Fat Quarter Shop in the Q4 link up of the Finish-Along with Katy.  (The Finish-Along changes host each year and can now be found at Adrianne's blog.)

I had fun spending my voucher, especially once I found the Art Gallery section of the shop!  I decided that I would get fabrics that I liked, rather than fabrics for a specific project (which is my usual method of shopping but I already have my next (for me) project lined up and don't dare think about starting another yet!) and I also decided that I would get fabrics for me, rather than for the quilt I need to make for my youngest niece, which could be the only new project I start this year!  The top three fabrics on the left-hand side are Mam's (she's planning to make her first quilt this year and needed some extras to fill out a layer cake) but the rest are mine!  I also got a charm pack of the Kona summer 2013 colours as I have a gap in my colour card - I'm going to chop 1" squares off each colour and add them to the card...I just need to get round to it!

Fat Quarter Shop/Finish Along winnings!

Last year I had some felt Christmas decorations on my FAL list but I couldn't make them as a few seconds pinning on a pattern piece left my hands red and itchy (I'm allergic to wool!) so I passed the kit to a friend's daughter.  She had enough felt left to make me a tree, which I got slightly too late to put on my Christmas tree so it will make its debut in December!

Felt decoration

I also received a couple of Christmas presents from friends:

Some lovely blue and white fabric from Salley (I'm under orders not to start embroidering the houses!!):

Fabric from Salley
I think these will become a drawstring bag.

And a fabulous book from Nicky (there was also one of her fabulous toadstools but this seems to have escaped the camera!):

book from Nicky

Finally (yes, I've reached the end of all the things I've received in the past couple of months!), I took part in Cindy's rainbow charm square swap and, just after Christmas, she sent out the charm packs - we each sent a yard each of two fabrics of the same colour (or some people did - I ordered mine (yellow) from Cindy's shop and Cindy did the cutting for me!) so we have two charms of each fabric for a total of 56 fabrics and 112 charms.  (I think that's right, someone correct me if I'm wrong!)

FSQ charm swap 2014
Some of these will go in my ET blocks and the rest will make their way into other projects - once I allow myself to start something new that's not on my FAL list

Archie didn't have the best start to 2015 (he was absolutely fine at 10am but by midday on New Year's Day his back had flared up again and he was back on strict cage rest) but he's starting to feel better and is even allowed a very, very short walk a few times a week (he gets chauffeured there and back so that maximum sniffing is catered for!) and has even managed to sneak into the conservatory for some sun and to check on his favourite wall:

Please release me, let me go...
Please release me, let me go....

Ah, my favourite wall...it's good to be back!
Ah, my favourite wall; it's good to be back!

Just a bit further and that patch of sun will be on me!
Just a bit further and that patch of sun will be on me!

Finally I have the sun on my back!
See?  I told you it would be!  (Only just, mind!)

Well, that's me done for now - let's see if my new blogging regime helps me come back sooner rather than later!

Thanks for popping in and thank you to all you wonderful friends who have sent me lovely things - I'm so lucky to know such fabulous people!

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