Monday, 31 December 2012

It's finished!!!

Please read the title in a sing-song voice 'cos that's how it sounds in my head!

Last night I (finally) put the final stitch in the binding of my Stained QAL quilt.  I got up this morning to take some (really bad) photos before putting it in the washer.  I then went back to bed to read doze until the washer played its tune and I got up to put it in the drier.

My apologies for the bad 'before washing' photos (and, now I've uploaded the 'after washing' photos, I can see that they're no better!) - I waited until it was as light as it was going to get (it's been one of those 'lights on from 9am onwards' days) but they're not brilliant mild understatement and the colours look so washed out compared to real life.  Even faffing on Picmonkey didn't help but I wanted to get my 'ta da!' post in before the year was out so I haven't got time to wait for the sun to shine!  I really need to find a better place in my house/garden to take photos - how do the rest of you manage?!  These were taken in my front room, with me hanging over the banister, holding the camera out at arm's length and hoping for the best.  Which didn't happen!

The front

The back

And a close-up of the quilting and some of the slightly dodgy intersections, which aren't as evident in this photo as I thought they'd be but I've probably got my picky knickers on when I look at the quilt!

The colours still aren't right but they're closer

And, after being squeezed in a very small tumble drier for a good part of the afternoon, this is what it looks like now...

The front

The back

And another close-up:

Beautifully wrinkled and crinkled...and not quite dry!  The colours are much more like they are in real life though!

Here's a much better photo of four blocks to give you a much better idea of the colour.  This is how rich they are in decent light/real life:

Stained 6

It's not the flattest quilt I've ever made but neither are people and it's intended to be a snuggling quilt.  I also think that being squashed in the drier hasn't done it any favours and, after a couple of hours in the airing cupboard, it's looking distinctly less bumpy but you'll have to take my word for it as there's not enough light to take a photo!

I don't usually name my quilts (other than 'the blue and white one', 'the big one', etc.) but I feel this needs a name.  As it's made from the leftovers of this quilt (also made for Mam and Dad) and given that at this time of year we're all eating leftovers, I wondered about calling it 'Turkey Sandwiches' but I can't see my parents going for that so I suspect it's doomed to being called 'Leftovers' for the foreseeable future...if you have any better ideas please shout!

Quilt stats:
Size before washing - 48" x 72" (12" blocks)
Size after washing - 46" x 69" (ish)
Fabric - (not prewashed, unusual for me!) leftovers plus three metres of Klona Grey
Piecing - machine
Wadding - two layers of Warm and Natural/Warm and White
Quilting - QAYG by machine in random wavy lines
Pattern - based on a design by Sarah@Narcoleptic In A Cupboard (see the Stained QAL Flickr group for details) and adapted to make the best use of the assortment of odd-sized leftovers I had available.

Thanks, Sarah, for hosting a marvellous QAL, I really enjoyed it, even if I'm almost (but not quite, Annabella!) last! 

That's about it from me for this year...thank you for all your support, kindness and thoughtful generosity this year, I think you're all marvellous!

It wouldn't be an ATWD post without a photo (or eight) of his Lordship though, would it?!

Taking centre stage, as usual:

Are you sure this isn't for me?

And putting those big brown eyes and expressive ears to good use:

Then this is surely for me, I'll give it a good sniff to be sure.  Maybe if I close my eyes it'll open and reveal a giant biscuit...nope  *sigh*

Happy New Year - I hope 2013 brings us all good health, peace, happiness and lots of stitching time!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Sixteen months of piecing...

On December 13th, exactly sixteen months after I pieced the first hexagon, I pieced the final hexy for my quilt!

Here are the final few:

Hexy 189
Hexy 190

Hexy 191 - the striped fabric is a dream to work with!

Hexy 192 - a final fairy!

Hexy 193

Hexy 194 - I have ironed it, honest!

A spare hexy.  One of the hexies that I stitched earlier in the project is appealing against a decision of hexicide...

Hexy 195 - the final one!

I don't yet have a photo of all 195 together as I haven't laid them out.  I've prepared all the trapezia (trapeziums?!) and the triangles that will square up the edge but won't have enough room to lay them all out until I take down the Christmas tree.  (And, because the tree is in front of the window, I wouldn't have the light to take decent photos even if I did have floor space!)  So I'm afraid you'll have to wait for a couple few weeks...

I've received some lovely Christmas presents from friends:

A lovely basket and lots of goodies from Jan, who didn't want me to be left out of the Secret Santa fun!
 The bar of chocolate was eaten shortly after the photo was taken as I wanted to know what Hershey's chocolate tasted like. Let's just say '...and now I know' and leave it at that *wink*

A fabulous travel sewing pouch (and charm packs and chocolate!) from Jude.

A charm basket from Nicky...
...which was packed with cheerful spotty charm squares (I love spotty fabric!) and chocolate (surviving, just)

The most wonderful book from the delightful Salley - she even got it signed for me by the author!!

And dozens of gorgeous 2.5" squares from Sarah  (yes, they took ages to lay out like that but aren't they pretty?!)

Thank you, all of you.  I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and treasure the generosity of our quilting community.

Finally, we weren't the only ones waiting for Father Christmas...

 Taken on Christmas morning

Is that him?  Alfie, what do you think?  Is it?
I think you're right...I hope he knows I'm here and not at home...

I'm sure I can hear sleigh bells...he hasn't forgotten me after all!
Definitely sleigh bells!  Which way does he come in?  Front door or back?  I need to know!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and found some sewing time to salvage your sanity.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got the binding to stitch down on the back of my Stained QAL quilt (really need to find a name for it!) and then I'm done!  I'm hoping to have it finished (and washed, dried and photographed) by the end of the year, which means I need to get a wriggle on!  Happy stitching and, if I don't make my deadline, Happy New Year!

P.S.  Sorry I haven't managed to reply to all the comments on my last post, I haven't really been on the computer for the past week so I'm way behind!  I'll work my way through though, it may just take a few days!
P.P.S.  Remember the banana bread I made?  Even the birds won't touch it!  (And I fear that the plastic box I was keeping it in is stinks, even after having bicarb in it for a week!)
P.P.P.S. (Yes, it's getting ridiculous, this is the last one!)  This is what I've just seen on my Flickr homepage:

I think he knew that one...

Friday, 21 December 2012

Catching up and a finish...albeit a small one!

Yes, you read that right!  A finish!  (Other than several thread catchers and a few pin cushions I think this is the only thing I've finished this year!)  Last year I made my mam three little trees to go on her dining table and we decided they would look better if they were on a plainer runner than what she was using.  So, in typical style, I planned the runner and collected the fabrics and then...did nothing.  For eleven and a half months.  I finally pulled my finger out, though, and started (and finished) it this week.  It's very simple because it's there to show off the trees not shout for attention.  It looks nice with or without trees and I think is subtle enough to be used throughout the year but glittery enough for Christmas.

Simple strips (2" finished) of a variety of cream and gold fabrics.

I made it in a 'flip and stitch' style and then added extra quilting lines in a metallic gold thread.

Sorry about the photo, it was one of those dull days where you need the light on just to find your nose...

The fabric second from the left in the above photo is cream with gold looks fabulous in person, if I do say so myself!

A slightly better photo of the gold quilting stitches.

One of the fabrics I used was a shot fabric - the warp is metallic gold and the weft is bronze (or it could be the other way round!).  It's got a nylon content of 20% but is a quilting weight (and good quality) fabric and adds a bit of sparkle to the runner.  Not that you'd know by these photos!

All these fabrics are the scraps remaining after I made Mam's red, gold and cream quilt, I bought the binding and backing fabric in a sale last January and the wadding was left after trimming a quilt so I think the whole thing cost about £5 - bargain!

I haven't really done much as I've been poorly for a couple of weeks (I had, or was developing, a quinsy - very painful!) but in the last few days I've felt much better.  Still shattered but at least I can swallow.  And eat!

I've done some baking

Italian banana bread and butterscotch cookies

The cookies were delicious!  I got the recipe from Kerry after I saw a photo on Twitter - I think she got it from here.  I made a double batch and used dark brown soft sugar (I didn't have any light brown) and I'll definitely be making them again!  Rice Krispies aren't something I usually have in my cupboards so I bought a couple of the small single serving boxes (the ones that always remind me of a B&B!) - I'll keep an eye out for them being on offer in the supermarket as they worked perfectly.

The banana bread is a Nigella recipe cut out of a magazine and looks lovely.  Unfortunately, it smells like the back of a chip shop (oily!) and has virtually no taste.  Lovely texture though and it lasts for days.  Even when you keep the lid off in an attempt to get it to harden in order to put it out for the birds!  Not one I shall be making again, I'll stick to my usual recipe from now on!

I've also managed to put up and decorate the tree (Wednesday) and this afternoon I finished wrapping presents...phew!

You can't see it but behind the blind is a garland of Susan's snowflakes

And it's that time of year again.  Christmas bath time.  Last year I bathed his Lordship outside (with buckets of warm water) but I couldn't bear to do that again so, for the first time ever (at least in the eleven years he's lived with me), Archie went to the dog parlour!  I thought he'd be a nightmare for them (he's petrified of water.  And hair dryers.) but he was a model client - I know because they took video footage and photos so they could show me!  He also went in the 'drying cupboard' and slept for twenty minutes and then stood on the table while they brushed him and trimmed his nails.  And my, does he look handsome and smell wonderful!  And his head is so soft!  Want to see?

I feel pretty!  Oh, so pretty!  I feel pretty and witty and bright!  And I pity, any dog who isn't me tonight.

He's been a little more fussy than usual and wants lots of attention (who wouldn't, when you look and smell that good?) and when I was finishing the binding on the table runner he wanted to be in the room with me rather than doing his usual trick of coming to say hello and then disappearing off to bed.  (I think it's because I left him.  He was as frantic at being left with the dog groomer as he was when I left him with the vet and I think it reminds him of being left at the rescue centre by his previous owner...)

Please will you bring my bed in here?  I want to be with you...

That's better!  I love you.  Have you got any biscuits up there?

And a few moments later...


Yes, there really is a dog under there - look!

Yes, I'm here.  Yes, I smell divine.  Now, please, put my lid back on and let me sleep...

And finally, because I really, really need to say a bloggy thank you for all the lovely post I've received in the last few weeks (there are more but they're under my tree, waiting for Christmas!)

I have wonderful friends...

From left to right, top to bottom:

* A gorgeous mini quilt/mug rug from Sheila - made with scraps of Velocity.  Have you seen her magnificent strippy quilt?

* I spent the voucher I won in the draw which formed part of the 'Pets on Quilts' contest in August.  I got half yard cuts of a variety of Kona solids (for my Summersville quilt...more on that another time), a fat quarter of Kona something (slate?), a fat quarter of a green RJR solid (to compare to Kona - it feels lovely but I haven't used it yet) and (yet another) little ruler.  I love these rulers, they're so handy - I think this may be number four!  All from The Quilted Kitty - thank you!!

* A wonderful (and surprise) friendship mini from the Bee a Brit Stingy bees.  Read more about it on Sheila's blog - here.

*A  yard of Winterkist gnomas (I was lucky enough to win a giveaway!) and some (scrumptious) chocolate truffles from Nic.

* Part of a custom charm pack from Nicky.  She makes these up for me every now and again - isn't she a treasure?

* The rest of the charm pack!

* Some pretty hexagons and lace weight yarn from Leanne who decided the fabric wasn't really her and kindly sent it to me.  I love it!  I've already started to piece a cushion from the hexies and the yarn is so, so soft - I can't stop cuddling it!

* A copy of '20 craft makes', which is being sold in aid of The Stroke Association and features Karen@Blueberry Park - she also sent me a pouch, made using her project in the book and it's the perfect size for my crochet hooks!

* Another custom charm pack from Nicky - she wanted to see which fabrics I liked best so I arranged them in order of preference.  The bottom row are my favourites, with the far left fabric being my top choice and working down from there.  Or rather, working along and up from there!

Thank you, all of you - I really appreciate your kindness, even if it does take me weeks to blog about it!

I'm hoping determined to finish my Stained QAL quilt before the end of the year (the sharp-eyed among you will have spotted it in some of the photos of Archie in my sewing room - it's the only quilt I've made that I've been able to roll like a carpet!!  Hope it relaxes a little while it's in the washer...) so I may be back with a grand 'ta-da'.  Or I may leave it until the first Fresh Sewing Day of 2013!  It's not going to be before Christmas though, so 'Happy Christmas' and I'll see you on the other side - I hope you all have a marvellous time and that Father Christmas has put you on the 'good' list...

P.S.  Remember the dog that initiated the attack on Archie (one dog started the attack and then the other joined in)?  Well, she's been put down after she attacked their new puppy.  And then went for her owner when she's sad that it came to that but she couldn't have been rehomed...

P.P.S.  That seems like a sad note to end on so here's a(nother) cute photo of Archie, taken when I was attempting to pin two rows of QAYG blocks together.  To be fair to him I was in 'play position'* so I suppose it's understandable!
* On all fours, a#se in the air!

Forget pinning...I need a fuss!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

And that was November...

Lily's Quilts

November has been a month of hexies and Stained QAL blocks...

All but one of my November hexies - there wasn't room for the other one!

Progress on the Stained QAL blocks

I've now got four hexies left to piece (and another four that are pieced but haven't been shared) and then I'll have 195 hexies, seventeen of which are 'whole' (i.e. unpieced) and the remaining 178 are pieced.

All my Stained QAL blocks are now in rows and all the vertical joins on the back have been stitched down and Nicky has promised that if I ever plan to use Klona on something that's going to need hand stitching then she's going to shoot me!  Stitching a folded Klona edge to a quilted Klona piece is not something I intend to ever do again once this quilt is finished - it took probably three times as long as it would have done with other quilting cotton and I needed a thimble at all times as I couldn't push the needle through with my finger -  it went through my finger rather than through the fabric!  Having said that, the rows look really good (no photo as it's dark out...maybe next time!) and I'm really pleased with how it's looking.  (My sanity has been saved by the occasional block where I was stitching Klona to one of the prints - they went twice as fast as the others but I still needed a thimble!)

I've also (finally) kept my promise and have sorted out a tutorial for the Suffolk puff Christmas trees I made last year.  My friend very kindly gave me permission to use her templates and instructions to make a mini tutorial instruction sheet.  I've created a Google document with the instructions and the templates (it took far longer than anticipated to get the templates to print out at the right size!) and you'll find it here (I hope!).  I haven't taken any photos of the steps as, to be honest, it's really very simple and I didn't feel there was a need.  If you get stuck on any steps (or find any mistakes!) then please shout and I'll do my best to help!

Archie is much perkier than he was last week and is thoroughly enjoying his walks!  He's down to one Tramadol a day (in the morning) and is being allowed off the lead for a little bit further every day, much to his delight!  To celebrate feeling brighter he was allowed a chewstick.  You I don't want to think about what they're made from but he loves them!

I hope that next time I post it'll either be about the final hexies or a grand reveal of the Stained quilt but don't hold me to that!

I've linked up to Lynne@Lily's Quilts for Fresh Sewing Day, why not pop over and see what everyone else has been up to?

Friday, 23 November 2012

A plea on behalf of Polo...

Many of you will know a lovely quilter called Salley who always leaves the most wonderful comments on my blog (and others).  Salley doesn't yet have a blog (I'm working on it!) so she doesn't have any followers she can ask for a small favour and I thought I'd ask on her behalf!

Jackie at Canton Village Quilt Works is running a pets on quilts competition on Facebook and it would be lovely if those of you who have a Facebook account would go and vote for Salley's cat, Polo.  Salley told me that she employs Polo to do her basting but I think it's more that Polo deigns to help.  After all, we all know you can't make cats do anything they don't want to!

Here's a photo of Polo helping.  Or maybe she's supervising...

Please vote for me!

The links for the competition are here and here.  I'm not sure which link is the best to use (but I think it's the first - please be patient as I imagine the photos may take a while to load) as I don't have a Facebook account...all you have to do is 'like' the photo of Polo, if indeed she's your favourite.  (Subtle hint: she'd better be!) Thank you!

Now, so you get over the shock of seeing a cat on a blog belonging to a dog I'll redress the balance...

Archie is feeling much brighter and really appreciates all your kind comments about him. 

Am I getting that biscuit or what?!
See?  Much more like his usual self!   

Sorry about the 'boy' bit on show...I tried using Picmonkey to, ahem, find a disguise but everything I did just highlighted matters instead!  I don't think there's anything wrong with the photo but perhaps I'm biased!

The vet's best guess was that the cold, damp weather has made his creaky knees painful.  She said they're not the worst she's ever felt in a dog his age (he'll be thirteen in February-ish.  It's hard to know the month for definite as he's a rescue dog but as he was in the same rescue centre as a puppy it's as accurate an age as you're going to get for a rescue dog!) but just because they don't feel horrific doesn't mean they're not painful.  He's on Tramadol (again!) for ten days and she said if that didn't perk him up then he'd need a blood test to check on his liver.  Fortunately, he's already feeling much perkier and, although he's on a long lead for the next week or so, he's thoroughly enjoying his walks and he's going up and down stairs as normal, which he wasn't doing on Tuesday/Wednesday.

Just to make sure the canine/feline balance is back to normal here is a collection of photos of Archie in under his bed, taken a couple of weeks ago.

It's lovely and cosy in here...

There, balance redressed!

Please don't forget to vote for Polo - thank you!!

P.S.  I'm sorry I haven't replied to all your lovely comments from my last post - I will reply, promise!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Wednesday catch up...

I'd love to be able to tell you that I've been hard at work since I last blogged but I haven't!  I have made some progress though...

Firstly, though, I want to apologise for all the photos - it's not going to get light today (it's tanking down) so they're not the brightest photos in the world!

I've quilted sixteen of the Stained QAL blocks.  I went with the wavy lines in the end and I'm really pleased with the texture of the blocks.  The heavy quilting (perhaps combined with a double layer of wadding) has pulled the blocks in so they're going to be 11.5" finished rather than the planned 12" but that's not a problem, it ends up measuring what it ends up measuring.

Four blocks from the front:

and the back:

I'm trying to do a couple of blocks a day.  Sometimes I manage more, more often I manage none but I've only got eight left to quilt so I hope to be trimming them next week.

The main thing I've been working on is my hexagon quilt.  I finally sat down and worked out how many partial and half hexagons I would need to complete the quilt and in doing so discovered that I preferred the first and final rows to start with a half hexagon (otherwise known as a trapezium!) so I need fewer hexagons than I thought.  I was working towards 202 and now I only need 195 and I'm almost there!  I've got nine left to piece and they're in my tin, waiting patiently for their turn.

In the past few weeks I've pieced (but not pressed!) these hexies:

I love these star in a star hexagons.

The six triangles in the centre took almost two hours to piece as the stripes weren't behaving

I think this style of hexy is my favourite and I may need a whole quilt of them...

This is much more interesting in real life - the colours are washed out here!

The stripes were a s*d to match (it's that fabric!) but it was worth it!

Nice and simple.

Another star in a star - I love that grey triangle fabric!

Another simple one - if they were all fancy they'd end up fighting for attention!

Very simple and in need of a press!

I hadn't realised how much I'd missed hand piecing over the last couple of months until I sat down and started again.  It's taken a long time for me to feel up to preparing any of the hexagons but I'm so glad I'm now able to get back to them.  I've cut out all the whole (i.e. unpieced) hexagons that I need to scatter round the centre of the quilt top (seventeen in all) and once I've pieced the remaining hexies I'm going to sort out the pieces that will square up the edges.  I'm hoping I've used enough different prints in the pieced hexagons to be able to have one of every print as either a whole, half or partial hexagon (a triangle!) and no repeats.  I'm not sure that makes sense!  What I mean is that I don't want any two hexagons (whole, pieced or otherwise) to be the same.  Fingers crossed I manage it!

That's it from me...I need to keep an eye on Archie as he's a little under the weather and I'm thinking of taking him to the vet.  Nothing specific, he just seems subdued and since the liver problem was discovered the vet said it's better to take him sooner rather than later if I'm worried.  And now I know about the liver problem I tend to worry more when he's not well.  Yesterday he wasn't really bothered about going for a w-a-l-k (very unusual) and although he was more interested this morning he wasn't his usual bouncy self.  His appetite is still intact though!  Last night I made him scrambled eggs (in case his tummy was feeling delicate) and he wolfed those down and then laid at the back door asking for 'proper' food!  I think I'll take him round the block and see how he is.  If he's still not himself I'm phoning the vet...

Here's a photo of the man dog himself, feeling a little sorry for himself.  Although I'd also just woken him up so that won't have helped!   
(Yes, it's a funny angle but there wasn't room to get in front of him!  I had to stand behind him, hold the camera in front of his face and hope for the best!)

Do you mind?  I was asleep!

I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday with Lee@Freshly Pieced (something I don't manage all that often but then I don't manage blogging very often so that shouldn't come as a surprise!) - why not pop over and see what other people are up to?  Or link up yourself?

I hope you're having a lovely week and that your stitching is going well!

P.S.  I've been lucky enough to receive some lovely post in the last couple of weeks - I'll show you next time!

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