Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A finish!

As promised I'm back with a finish...I have to confess that this quilt has been finished for a couple of months and I've been patiently waiting to learn the name of the baby so I could make the label.  I knew it was going to be a girl but, if I'm honest, I didn't let that affect my fabric choice.  A couple of people asked why I chose a blue fabric for the back when I knew it was going to a girl but I really don't think it matters.  (And Paddington was too cute to turn down!)  While I was piecing this (and the other baby quilt I made at the same time) I pictured lots of time spent playing 'Spot the cat/dog/fish' and then Mummy and Daddy making up stories about the characters in the quilt.  I deliberately didn't use all picture fabric in the quilt as I wanted to get a nice balance of colours use what I had in my stash and I really like the way it's turned out.

  40" square.  I used Polydown for a nice puffy look (and it dries quite quickly!) and quilted in the ditch.

I wasn't sure how much information to show about the baby - Rosie is her middle name!

I also crocheted a blanket for baby to snuggle under in her pram - her mum loves stripes and the green just happens to match with her pram/buggy fabric, a complete coincidence!

36" by 42" (I think!) Made using Baby Bamboo.

Couldn't resist a ruffle photo!
The ruffle was inspired by a tutorial at Tales from Cuckoo Land and really finished the blanket - it looked a little naked before I added it!  These, plus a gorgeous knitted crib blanket made by my mum (sorry, no photo - she wrapped it weeks ago!), were posted today and will take a couple of days to arrive - hope they like them!

I tried to take a photo of Archie that showed off his curly tail but he wasn't cooperating...I opened the back door and said "Out!" and I think he was worried he was going to have a B-A-T-H!!

This was the best I could do, you can see a hint of a curl!  I'll have to remember to take my camera with me when we go for a walk and see if I can catch him by surprise!

After a couple of minutes of refusing to have a decent photo taken he did this...

...I got the message and gave up!

I've changed my comments box to be a pop-up after Linda pointed out it made it easier to comment - I hope you like it that way (if not, please shout and I'll see what other options I have!).

I've got another four hexies prepped and ready to stitch but don't have any new ones to show - sorry, I'll get started right away...bye!

P.S.  Nicky, you're right, uploading all my photos at once is much faster!  (But why do they sometimes refuse to move?!)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Almost as good as new!

Archie would like to thank you for all the well wishes you have sent and he wants you to know he's had all his staples removed and his ear is healing well!  I took him back to the vet this morning and, after about 10 minutes of Helen/Archie wrestling, all six staples were on the table.  I've got to confess that it distressed him more than I'd expected (hope this isn't going to be too much detail but the scab had formed over the staples so she had to take that off before she could get to them) and by the time she'd taken four out I had to ask her to put a muzzle on him as he didn't want my hand clamped round his snout and was fighting and growling.  He's usually so placid and obedient so it was plainly hurting.  Once I was just holding him still rather than trying to stop him snapping at the vet (!) it was much easier.  Archie was fine the moment the muzzle was removed and he was on the floor (he hates being on the table and he shakes so much the table rocks!) and he was rewarded for his bravery with some treats - I think he deserved an 'I've been good at the vet' sticker (like the ones the dentist gives out) but dogs don't seem to appreciate stickers...perhaps because they don't have jumpers to stick them on.

So there'll be no more of these photos 

He looks so sad...He's probably thinking 'Does my muzzle look long in this lamp shade?' (Yes!)
That, or 'I wish she'd stop waving that thing (camera!) in front of my face'

 He wouldn't let me take a photo that showed his poorly ear...last night he did this 
whenever I tried... the dog equivalent of 'la la la, I'm not listening'!

And more of these 
So relaxed!

I haven't got any new hexies to show (it's been a busy couple of days and I haven't had chance to prepare any more pieces) but Rebecca at Making Rebecca Lynne has confessed to a long-standing tumbling blocks UFO that started life as 'just because' present for her boyfriend and 10 (yes, TEN!) years later her boyfriend has become her husband and he's still waiting for his quilt!  Please pop over and give her a little nudge (or a supportive and encouraging comment if that's more your style!) - she really needs encouragement to help her finish it as a surprise for her beloved Mr MRL (it's going to be great!) and I've promised to support (nag) her until she finishes!  (I just hope it doesn't bring out the as yet unsuspected fishwife in me!!).  She has been very complimentary about my blog (thank you!) so you can read nice things about Archie the wonder dog, see a cute dog photo and then do some nagging be encouraging!!  She's also having a giveaway for My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking software (Rebecca shows you some of the different things you can use it for, including images and buttons for blogs) so you could win something while you're there!

Also, Nicky is choosing between two designs for her Across the Sea QAL and I'm sure she'd appreciate some feedback and help choosing between the two options - she's making a fright night quilt to curl up under whilst watching Dr Who this Autumn and it's already looking great - ruby red is such a good colour choice for a 'scary film' quilt!!  Nicky has been wonderfully supportive in the last week and held my hand as I dipped my toe in the blogging pool - it's hard to believe that this time last week I didn't really know her, now it feels like I've known her for ages.  She had sad news yesterday so I'm sure she'd appreciate some new visitors...

I thought I'd share my first ever project (made in 2006) - a cushion.  I could already sew before I started quilting but had never attempted patchwork (I'm not keen on that word...anyone else feel the same?) and I bought a set of templates from my LQS that could be combined to make about 30 different 12" traditional blocks (they don't sell them any more).  I set to with the templates and a pencil, resting on an old NEXT directory (which I always use if I want a firm surface while I'm sewing/marking lines whilst watching telly - it's very handy and a vital part of my kit!) and drew round the fabrics I'd chosen.  It didn't take long to chose as all my sewing stuff (needles, thread and scissors as well as fabric) was kept in a shoe box so choice was limited, to say the least!  (A shoe box!  Now I have a sewing room!)

Excuse the scrumpled nature of this cushion, it's well used!
I couldn't get a decent photo that really showed the quilting...this was the best I could manage.

 I hand quilted with a variegated quilting thread (YLI, I think) in purples.    I found the hand quilting difficult as someone (lady in a local all crafts under one roof place - not the one beginning with H!) told me that Warm and Natural was good for hand quilting and I ended up doing a stab stitch rather than a running stitch - it never occurred to me that it was the wadding that was the problem, rather than me!  (I used Warm and White in my wonky quilt as I wanted a low loft wadding and it's still hard work to hand quilt through but it's manageable, particularly if you're using perle cotton or something similar and so don't want small stitches.)

This was the first time I'd joined more than one block together (it felt like a really big step!) and I decided to add beads to the stars so they would catch the light and twinkle.  I was thrilled when I went to see her and it had pride of place on the chair in the hallway - it's still there so she must like it!

I hope you've enjoyed seeing where it all started - I'm part way through embroidering a quilt label for a baby quilt so I should have a finish the next time I see you!

This was going to be a short(ish) post - that'd be a fail, then!!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

My mind is blank so this title will have to do! (Or 'Why is the title the hardest part?')

I don't think there are words to express how grateful and appreciative I am for the warm and supportive welcome I have received.  Lynne is so incredibly supportive of new bloggers and so are her followers so...thank you!  I have promised Lynne that when I hit 1300 followers I shall return the favour but by then I don't think we'll have blogs; we will transport a portion of ourselves into the ether for face-to-face chats while the remaining portion stays behind and stitches!  Thank you for all the lovely comments; were you all being kind and not pointing it out or did you genuinely not notice the typo in the title?!  Note to self...when you proofread the post, remember to include the title I think I may compose a list of bloggy rules for myself, like Gibbs' rules in NCIS!  I wanted to reply to all of you but quite a few of you are 'no-reply' bloggers and I couldn't reply so "Thank you for comments"!

As this is intended to be a blog about quilting, etc., I think it's about time I shared more than the odd hexie...and we all know how odd one of them was!!  (If you're just here for the hexies or the cute dog photos don't panic, they're further down!)

My most recent finish used the pattern from the QAL hosted by Jennifer .  I didn't join in the QAL but discovered it through another blog and started way after everyone else finished!!  I was given the charm pack (I think it's Freebird by Momo but please feel free to correct me!) and hadn't a clue what to make and the QAL came at just the right time.  Without further ado, here's the 'ta da' moment...are you ready?!

Sorry about the odd angles - I've yet to work out the best place to take photos of larger quilts, I may need to invest in a washing line, just for the photo opportunity!
The back, with a toothpaste stripe!

The solids are Moda Bella - I have no idea what the colours are called so I hope no one wants to know!  I machine quilted the ditches to stabilise the squares and then used coton a broder for the hand quilting.  It was the first time I'd used anything other than standard thread or quilting thread for hand quilting and (I think) it went really well.  I marked the squares using a hera marker and used an embroidery needle as it had enough bend in it to allow me to rock.  (Does that sound like a cheesy line from an awful film?!)

I would like to sell this quilt and have approached a couple of local shops but it didn't fit in with their stock theme and we're short of crafty handmade shops up here.  I'm going to have a think about where to go next and if I don't sell it then I'll adopt it.  Ceri has been really helpful (thank you!) as has Marjorie (thank you!) but if anyone else has any suggestions they're very welcome!

I haven't managed much sewing in the past few days but I have managed another three-hexie combo

I haven't joined these either but I did manage to sellotape them to the door in the right order!
 I called into my LQS yesterday for some buttons and somehow came out with two more fat quarters for my hexies.

The new fabrics are centre and right - in a rare piece of luck I bought a FQ with the details so I can tell you it's from the range celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Paducah Quilt Museum and the fabric on the left has just arrived in the post and is from 'Dream a Little Dream' by In the beginning.
If you're not interested in dogs please skip to the bottom!

We've had Alfie staying for the last 24 hours - a little holiday for him!  Archie was feeling quite generous and allowed Alfie to roll him

Doggy action shots are tricky - sorry it's a bit blurry!
Followed by the doggy version of a Mexican stand-off...

Spot Archie's lovely pink tongue!
 Followed by an uneasy truce...

He may look relaxed but Alfie is like a coiled spring!
Followed (finally!) by an afternoon nap...

I promise I didn't pose this photo!
If you've made it all the way down here, well done!  I hope I haven't bored you all silly with the doggy photos!  Must go I've promised myself that I'll finally take up a pair of trousers, yawn!  Well, they have been waiting since *ahem* well before Christmas - oops!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Introducing Alfie (the not so wonder dog)...

I thought I should introduce you to Alfie...he's my mam and dad's dog but he often spends the day (or night) here with me and Archie.  Unlike Archie, who carefully avoids any fabric on the floor and will tiptoe round a quilt being tacked or blocked, Alfie believes fabric on the ground is like a stage and he feels obliged to tap dance on it.  I recently needed to block a quilt on the front room carpet while Alfie was staying for an extended holiday and I had to put boxes and jars all the way round the edge to stop him dancing on it - thankfully I didn't have any friends dropping in for a cup of tea!  So, without further ado, here's Alfie (who's strong on instinct but was behind the door when brains were being given out) and one of his beloved tennis balls...

Despite his grizzled appearance he's two years younger than Archie (who's 11) and he loves nothing more than a good 'rough and tumble' play with Archie, who can think of nothing worse so this

is a common sight in my house - Alfie has given up mouthing Archie's ear in the hope of getting him to play and has settled for monitoring him for any sign of movement and Archie is stubbornly ignoring him!

That's enough of dogs, onto the stitching!  I'm afraid there isn't a great deal - it's been a busy few days - but I have managed another three hexagons.  

I'm not planning to stitch them together (that's probably a good thing, looking at the next photo!) until I start joining all the blocks as it's going to be easier to keep flat as three separate blocks.  My next hexagons are going to be a variation of the same block but make a pieced star when they're combined.  In the interests of honesty (and so that Susan doesn't feel alone!) this is the first photo I took...

I realised it was wrong as I lifted the camera but decided to take a photo anyway as it amused me - I'd concentrated on getting the points lined up in the middle but failed to notice the obvious error!

Time for me to go - I'm going out in 35 minutes and (disgracefully) am still in my dressing gown - writing this post has taken far longer than I expected!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Dipping my toe in the blogging pool...

Here goes nothing...the first posting on my blog!

About 18 months ago I was adamant I wasn't starting a blog ("Why would anyone read it?" "I'm not sure I have anything to say that isn't already on another blog") but recently I've started to think about changing my mind!  I'm not any more confident that people will read and enjoy my posts or that I have anything different to say, it's more that I quite fancy dipping my toe in the blogging pool and seeing if I like it.  This morning I got a nudge from Nicky of Mrs Sew and Sow about starting a blog and it seems it was just what I needed to get started!  I expect that my blog will mainly be about my obsession with quilting (and embroidery, crochet and knitting, but mainly quilting!) so I have no idea why I've named it after my dog, except that it's the name that came to mind when I was setting up my Flickr account and it makes sense to keep the same name.

So, after all that I think it's time to introduce Archie the wonder dog...

...although at the moment he looks like this...

...a (big) dog (well, bitch) pinned him down and bit his ear on Wednesday evening - very scary, for a moment I thought it was going to be horrific.  It needed six staples (and antibiotics and painkillers) to fix but I'm grateful that he didn't need sedating or stitches (which would have required a full anaesthetic).  I'd be even more grateful, however, if the owner of the dog (which was on a lead at the time) had done something (anything!) to control his dog, properly apologised and offered to pay the vet's bill...

I think it's also time to introduce myself (no photo - like Archie I detest having my photo taken but unlike Archie I actually have a say in the matter!).  I'm Helen (pleased to meet you!), I'm 35 (just!) and live in the North-East of England.  I was a primary school teacher until just over five years ago when I caught a nasty flu virus that resulted in ME/CFS and I lost my job due to ill health and I'm not yet well enough to return to work.  Although I'd done plenty of sewing/crochet/knitting when I was young (and had spent hours colouring in drawings of patchwork quilts - mainly squares!) I had never thought about quilting but wanted to find something I could 'pick up and put down' after about three months of being off work and I was starting to get sick of just lying on the settee watching telly and being too tired to do anything else for more than a few minutes.  Famous last words - I was quickly hooked on hand piecing and immediately found it to have a meditative quality which was very soothing and relaxing.  I still feel that and for that reason I think that hand piecing and quilting will always be my main love.  I enjoy machine piecing but not in quite the same way.  (Phew, thought I'd lost this paragraph - the cursor has a mind of it's own and keeps wandering...thank goodness for the undo button!!)  I've recently started teaching a few workshops at a local business and I hope to do more in the future.  I really enjoy it and one of the advantages of teaching adults is that you don't have to keep an eye out for them running with scissors (although it's amazing the 'silly' things grown-ups do with scissors and rotary cutters - makes me wince!) and neither do you have to monitor how often they go to the toilet ;o)

As you've probably noticed I'm quite chatty (!) - unless I've deleted half of what I've written before I click 'publish post' - so I think it's time to go.  I'll leave you with a couple of recent photos of my current obsession...hexagons! (Thanks, Lynne and Gayle, just what I needed, another project!)

Please excuse the crumpled sheet - it was much worse before I ironed it (on the floor, after I'd taken one photo and realised just how bad it was!)

That's all for now, folks (that makes it sound like I'm expecting hordes to rush to read my first post!  I can assure you that is not the case!), see you soon, I hope!
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