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March did that happen?!

I didn't intend to leave such a gap between blog posts but when you're spending more time asleep than awake it's hard to find time to do very much at all, let alone write a blog post.  Enough of that, let's get started, shall we?!

Have I told you I joined Bee A Brit Stingy?  There was a space available for 2014 and I decided to take the plunge and become a full member, rather than just helping out with admin and cheering from the sidelines.  I was concerned about whether I'd manage to make the equivalent of two 12" blocks each month as my sewing time is variable and my sewing machine time is extremely limited most of the time* but I decided to give it a whirl.

* To any new readers who are wondering why this is: I have M.E. and so have limited energy to spend on all aspects of my life as well as having to recover from any physical or mental activity by resting.  I find machine sewing very tiring so only attempt it on an afternoon but I often spend the whole afternoon asleep which means that days/weeks can go by without me managing to take the cover off my machine - I do most of my sewing by hand as I love hand sewing and it's also a lot less tiring for me.

In January, Lucy asked for two butterfly blocks (we had a choice of two blocks) and, after seeing one of the options, I asked if I could redraft the pattern (I removed a couple of seams) and hand piece it as I knew there would be no way I'd get two machine blocks done in the month (I was spectacularly tired!), no matter how straightforward they were.  These are my contribution to Lucy's eldest daughter's 'big girl' quilt:

Two butterflies for Lucy
For more details about the block pattern, please go to Lucy's post introducing her choices.

In February, Emily asked for two log cabin blocks and Sheila kindly emailed me the foundation piecing templates after learning I was going to draft the blocks with a ruler and several pieces of A3 paper (I knew FPP would be an easy way of ensuring the blocks finished square and at the right size but don't have EQ so was going to draft the old-fashioned way!) and I made these:

Two log cabin blocks for Emily
Elisheva, can you spot some of the lovely text fabric you sent me?!

This month it's Sheila's turn to be Queen Bee and she's asked us to make some mini blocks that she can stitch into dolly quilts for her granddaughter's dolly bed so it's like the bed in 'The Princess And The Pea' - I'll let you know how I get on!

I managed to accidentally start something new:

Embroidery on 28 count evenweave
Can you tell what it is yet?!

It'll be turned into a cushion once it's finished - it's worked on 28 count evenweave (this is the first time I've used it and I much prefer it to Aida!).  I've had to make a couple of adjustments to the pattern (changed the spelling of 'fibres' so it was the UK spelling rather than the US spelling and changed a couple of 'r's so they were lower-case rather than upper-case - I can't stand upper-case letters in the middle of words...ever the teacher!!)

I have finished something, though.  It's even something that's on my (badly photographed) FAL list for this quarter (I'll wait here while you go and marvel at my poor photography).  It's the hat - would you like to see it on?

Do I really have to wear this?  I feel like a right plonker.

Well you didn't really expect a photo of me wearing it, did you?!  (Despite being told by everyone that's seen me in my slouch hat that I'm talking nonsense, I'm still not entirely convinced that it doesn't make me look like Compo!) I'm hoping to have another finish by the end of the quarter as I've started lining the (very long) handle for the crocheted bag and hope to have it attached by the time we have to account for ourselves.  I'm not doing so well on the other two items on the list.  The bag is still just a pile of fabric and after a brief spurt of quilting energy I've come to a complete halt on the other project:

DP progress
Yes, I did use rather a lot of pins when I was layering - I wasn't sure how many would be removed as I marked the lines so put in (a lot!) extra, just in case!

I think I have another thirty-six lines to quilt (I'm quilting a 3" grid) so it'll be a while before it's finished!

In the next few weeks my back garden is going to be overhauled so that I can manage it myself.  It currently looks like this:

Garden at the end of February

It hasn't always looked like such a wasteland but the grass has been killed and all but two of the plants (I've kept a climbing rose and a Japanese maple in the ground as I'm particularly attached to them and didn't want to risk losing them!) have been dug up and saved (you can see some of them in the next photo) or removed.  I'm hoping that by the next time I blog I'll be the owner of a garden that's partly planted (I'm going to potter round and do the easy planting myself) and easily managed!

I thought you said we were going for a walk?

Archie has been honing his already expert skills: eating, walking (otherwise known as an opportunity to search for food that's been left by the food fairy), sleeping and snoring.  He's excelling in all of these but would like more practise in the first and wouldn't turn down extra walks!  Those of you who know Archie will know that he likes to snuggle under his bed by making a cave and tucking his bed (summer-weight duvets) around him.  I don't quite know how he managed it but here's an Archie cave without its occupant:

Sorry it's blurry - I was trying to take the photo before Archie came back and laid on it/destroyed it!

Archie had his fourteenth birthday and got a giant chew stick as a treat:

Is it really all for me?
He hasn't finished it yet (I decided that half was quite enough for one day!) but he'll get the other half very soon!

Thanks for popping in and putting up with my waffle (assuming you've got this far!).  I'm linking up, as ever, to Fresh Sewing Day at Lily's Quilts - why not pop over and see what everyone else has been up to?
Lily's Quilts

P.S.  Have you made some 'Soy Amado' blocks for Alison's appeal?  I'm going to attempt to make some this month.  If you don't already know about this appeal, please visit this page on Alison's blog for more details and help if you can.  Thank you!


  1. My massive belly laugh had the mister running over. (Surely nothing could be that funny?)
    Glad to see that ol' dragon ME, hasnt stunted your humour neurones, Helen. Poor Archie... you do tease him.

    Oh, and beautiful butterflies, perfect logs etc etc.... **hugs** for a way better month.

  2. You managed to make a lot in February! I love the butterflies. They are just gorgeous and the embroidery is so lovely!

  3. ♫ Happy Birthday to you, Archie ♫ You sweet little puppy dog, sending you hugs and kisses and lots of love.

    Molly Brown, Jessie & The Gang ♥

  4. Wow, some lovely blocks there! The butterflies are gorgeous! I found 'foundation by the yard' fabric which made off set log cabins, flying geese and courthouse steps easier, but they don't do conventional log cabin annoyingly! Sorry to hear it's ME that's attacking you, I know Plum (plum quilts blog) has that too, horrible disease, you both do really well, both sewing and PMA xx

  5. Can;t wait to see what the garden is going to look like: it will be so much easier for you to have a garden you can handle! I am looking forward to Sheilas blocks this month, they are going to be fun to do

  6. Hi Helen, lovely to see you x Sam says Happy Birthday to Archie. Love your blocks, especially the butterfly one, and you have achieved quite a lot, my mojo is slowing down a lot these days, but that's just old age with me LOL. Take care. Hugs xxxx

  7. Why did you do it!?? Make that handsome dog Archie look like Compo? hehe! All your makes are gorgeous particularly J's butterfly blocks - she is going to have an awesome quilt!

    Excited about your garden even in this state it looks better than my soggy trenches!

    Hope you get more energy to stitch in March!

  8. It's always wonderful to hear from you and Archie. The butterfly blocks are really lovely. I've been thinking about log cabins as our next guild swap.

  9. I'm with Salley - poor Archie! ;-) Love the cave and all the other photos. I would love a low maintenance garden. I do not have a green thumb, or any of my other digits for that matter. The butterflies are super cute though.

  10. Lovely blocks :-) that stitching is so cool and I look forward to seeing your garden blooming! Nice to see what you're up to xx

  11. Happy Birthday Archie! You don't look like 14. So great to hear from you again! You have made beautiful sewing Works and gardening is fun too. Hugs from Nero!

  12. Oh wow they are fantastic looking blocks! I bet your garden is going to be stunning when it's done, that's very exciting! X Fi

  13. I really enjoyed this post, Helen. It's so good to see what you're working on (LOVE the x-stitch), your gorgeous bee blocks (lucky hive buddies, you have!) and the super Archie. He's looking so adorable yet proud in that last photo. I'd love for him to meet Molly some day. xx

  14. wow, 14! Bix Cat will be 18 in April - our furry friends are now elder statesmen, no wonder they get distinguished hats! Your butterfly block sounds amazing, though almost certainly way too difficult for moi!

  15. Well I for one thoroughly enjoyed all your waffling ;) Your butterfly blocks and the log cabin ones are gorgeous! Lucky recipient. Looking forward to seeing your garden progress. I need to get mine done too I just can't cope with it anymore... I'm thinking green concrete! Oh Archie... Happy Birthday to you!!! What has your mam done to you... LOL... Congrats on your finish Helen ;) and it's so good to hear from you. Good luck with the quilting. Mine, which I started and intended to have finished by the end of January, also stalled and sits in a heap. Your stitchery is looking good too. Good luck, also with those blocks for Soy Amado. I checked it out and it's a great cause. I think I have some blocks that could do with going to a good home. hugs Ellyxxx

  16. Hi Helen,

    I lost you for a while, glad I found you again.
    First of all happy B-day to Archie. He looks quite happy with his big bone.

    I absolutely adore the cave he left behind. So Archie-ish!

    Apparently this "Bee a brit stingy" is lots of fun. You have been sharing the most wonderful works!

    Have a nice evening,


  17. Happy birthday Archie!! So lovely to 'see' you both after such a long time. Lovely makes and glad you jumped in with the stingy lot ;)

  18. I'm so glad you're having a go at Bee a Brit Stingy. Can't wait to see more in progress garden shots. Archie is looking as photogenic as ever but clearly thinks you should have modeled your own hat :-)

  19. The blocks are looking great, although I might have laughed at Archie in the hat, sorry, please don't tell him ;o) Happy birthday to the old boy too :o)

  20. Wow! You've been busy! Great to find your blog, you have a new follower! The butterflies are stunning. Have to try that one.

  21. Always a pleasure to see the handsome Archie again! Your Bee blocks are lovely and your hand embroidery is totally stunning! Hoping your energy levels keep heading in the right direction. Jxo

  22. You can "waffle away" any time and I'll love reading it. Happy Birthday Archie! Really love your photos of Archie's tent and hat. Beautiful butterfly blocks!! I know your yard will be great and you can enjoy working in it. We have a smallish yard and I like pottering. Herschel says hi!

  23. Happy Birthday Archie! Our dog always gets presents too for birthdays and Christmas, after all he is family. I really like your quilt, it will be a work of art when all finished and bound.

  24. What a clever idea to adapt the blocks so you can hand sew them! Many happy returns to the lovely Archie. One of my dogs likes to sleep in a nest, I wonder if it's a white dog thing?

  25. Loving all your Bee blocks, especially the butterflies. Happy birthday to Archie and looking forward to seeing your newly transformed garden ( when the rain stops).

  26. I can't wait to see your new garden!

  27. lovely butterflies! I'm still working on Emily's blocks - I cut what I thought was enough fabric and took them away with me for the weekend. Of course, I ran out of strips with a couple of rounds to go. I always totally underestimate how much log cabins need! I'm an idiot!

  28. Everything is lovely, including Archie's new hat. How adorable!
    You sure have been busy with lots of things- I just love a vacant garden, as it lets me think of possibilities!
    The needlepoint (sewing machine?) is sure to be great, and the coloring of the log cabin blocks is terrific.
    Keep it up, though I'm not sure how you find all those hours in a day.

  29. I'm sure I visited on the 1st and I didn't see this post! Lovely to see how you're getting on :) I love your blocks - especially Lucy's and your hat looks great. And it'll be nice to have your garden ready for the Spring/Summer. Looks like you've missed the swamp landscaping the rest of of us have enjoyed this year! And, of course, belated Happy Birthday to Archie! Hope you both have a lovely March x

  30. Lovely quilty things! I know how hard it is to find the energy to do stuff, but it's brilliant that you are keeping going and managing to finish some projects - it doesn't matter if it takes us longer than other people, we still get the same sense of achievement (or even more!) than those not cursed with ME. Hang in there - and good luck with the garden re-design!

  31. Beautiful, beautiful work :-) I'm so glad that you're enjoying the Bee. Happy birthday Archie!

  32. Your hand embroidery is lovely. I loved the cave left by Archie . Happy birthday to Archie .

  33. Oops, I missed this post.
    Ugh, aida. Glad you discovered evenweave. Linen is fun too. This piece is taking shape nicely. Looks like the beginnings of a little sewing machine to me. Although, not all of the words match a sewing machine.
    Glad you're able to hand sew some of your blocks. And they're looking good.
    So do you always pin baste? What are your thoughts on pin vs sewn (lines) basting for hand quilting?

  34. I missed the post too, glad I am here :). Love your post and the place of Archie under the blanket ;-).
    Gorgeous blocks and Projects :)
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY (better late then never)

  35. Thanks for caring for me and my mum!

    Happy Easter to you too!


  36. Love Archie (and his cave!), love butterflies, love, love, amado is 5 year old made her first QAYG (my first too!!) for the project. Hope you're feeling better xx


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