Saturday, 27 September 2014


I may not have made much progress with this blog in the last few weeks months but I have managed quite a bit of sewing, in between resting (I was completely exhausted after the Oakshott project and it took me quite a few weeks of sleeping for fourteen hours a day to get back to anything like my usual normal.  M.E. does that to you but I'm lucky that, with lots of rest, I can gradually bounce back.  Lots of people don't...) and Archie-related emergencies (I'll explain more below but don't panic, he's feeling much more like himself, thank goodness!) and I thought it was about time I popped my head in here to let you know what I've been up to.

In July, I made these blocks for Charlotte:

Blocks for Charlotte - Bee A Brit Stingy July 2014

In August, I made this snowflake for Nicky:

Snowflake block for Nicky - Bee A Brit Stingy 2014

There are 239 pieces in this 9.5" x 9.5" (finished) block (each red square finishes at 0.5" x 0.5") and I love the back almost as much as the front!  I must tell you that Nicky didn't ask for this as her block, she gave us free rein within the guidelines of 'red and white with a touch of teal Nordic-inspired blocks' and I designed this snowflake.  It's well worth popping over to Nicky's blog to see more of her blocks!

The back of the snowflake block.

Most recently I made these blocks for Janet:

Blocks for Janet - Bee A Brit Stingy September 2014

One more month and then it's my turn to be Queen Bee!  I've had my block picked since the beginning of the year (and surprisingly, I haven't changed my mind!) but haven't yet managed to make any sample blocks.  I have five weeks to get my act together...

I've been making fair-to-good progress with my Q3 list and even have some finishes.  I'm not going to show you them all now as this blog post is already heading for epic proportions, so I'm going to see if I can manage some shorter (snappier!) posts between now and the end of the linky party; one for each finish, if I can manage it.

My candidate for 'finish I'm most glad to see the back of' started like this:

bed tent for H
Plans for 'bed curtains' for a friend's daughter's midsleeper bed

And, after several hours at the ironing board wrestling what turned out to be fabric possessed by a demon (it was so bad that it had to be isolated from the rest of my stash in case it was a demon that liked to inhabit more than one fabric at a time!), I finally finished.  I don't have a photo of them in situ but here's proof of all those hours.  If you look closely you can probably see the demon peeking out from those polka dots *winks*

Thank heavens for that!!
Finished bed curtains

They actually looked really good by the time I'd finished - my friend had chosen mustard top stitching thread (she couldn't find a standard weight thread to match so went with one which said 'extra strong'!) and I was initially dubious but it looked far, far better than bright pink thread would have done.  Note to self: don't always go with the obvious choice of thread!

I've also made progress with the blue and white monster quilt and I can present, for your delectation, 41% of the finished quilt top:

41% of the quilt top

I've got another ten rows (150 blocks) to go and I honestly can't wait to be able to say that I've finished piecing this top!  Maybe by this time next year, if I'm lucky?!

A project which is much more fun to piece is my Christmas Cherry (based on the Made in Cherry quilt by Sarah Fielke).  I'm aiming to have this ready for hand quilting by the beginning of November as I want to be able to watch Christmas films while I quilt this.  It currently looks like this:

Christmas Cherry progress

and there are ninety-two squares on my sewing table which are destined to be a border.  I'm then going to add some smaller stars top and bottom to make the quilt into a rectangle, rather than a square.  At least, that's the plan at the moment...

When I joined the strips for the background border, I decided that the easiest way to match the dots was to top stitch the join.  This meant I could pin the strips exactly where I wanted them and get the match as close as possible, given that the lines of dots aren't quite as straight as they look!

I think that's enough sewing progress for now, don't you?  I'll save the rest for another day...

I mentioned at the beginning of the post that there had been an Archie-related emergency.  On Bank Holiday Monday (25th August) I was in the kitchen when I heard a funny 'thump' and rushed through to find Archie leant against the settee and looking very odd indeed.  When I tried to sit him up, he just collapsed back against the front of the settee and it became clear that he had no control/feeling in at least three of his legs.  I thought he'd had a stroke so rang the emergency vet (for those of you who are wondering, yes, the consultation fee for an out-of-hours vet is akin to calling in the emergency plumber.  Just as he's sitting down to Sunday dinner.  On his birthday.) and took him in a short while later (I had to wait while they dealt with another emergency admission).  By this time he was dribbling, shivering (with pain), whimpering and not very interested in what was going on (although he did move his ears when he heard my mam come through the door).  Fortunately, it wasn't a stroke but a dramatic flare up of his bad back (which happened when he was attacked by another, much larger, dog) and resulting arthritis.  Inflammation meant that his nerves weren't sending signals to his legs.  He stayed in overnight (and he's been very clingy ever since) with a series of steroid drips stuck in his leg and came home the next afternoon, much to my relief. He's since been back for another couple of follow-up appointments and the vet is thrilled with his progress so far - she said that dogs who come in as bad as Archie don't usually come back this well.  He's on a low dose of steroids (which are making him eat, drink and wee for England, no exaggeration!), has painkillers to take when I think he needs them and is allowed two slow ten minute lead walks a day.  He's not allowed up or down stairs or steps (so needs lifting in and out of the house, so undignified) but he's adjusting to his 'new normal' quite well.  He's still very, very excited by walks and biscuits and I'm hoping that when he goes for his next check-up (in about two weeks' time), he'll be able to come off the steroids and go onto a doggy anti-inflammatory medication.

Here are some far too many photos I've taken over the past few weeks:

Is that a biscuit you're hiding behind your back?  Hand it over.

This photo was taken the day before he scared the living daylights out of me - you can see how happy and healthy he looks!

 I hate being in here...

I must be poorly if I'm allowed on the's comfy, though!

I may have been carried here and told not to move but I'm really enjoying this patch of sun

Pleeeeeeease may I come out?

I'm telling you, I'm *this* close to making a run for it

That's better: back where I belong

Do you mind, I'm sleeping!

And this morning, after his 'strip wash' (he's not well enough to tolerate a bath, particularly given how much he hates it and prances around, so he had the doggy version of a 'stand up wash at the sink' with a flannel and soapy water, followed by a very quick rinse from the hose):

No, I'm not best pleased. 

He smells gorgeous and now he's dry he's lovely, fluffy and 'OMO' white!

After that I need a big cup of tea (and perhaps a biscuit) before I head to bed.  Thanks for popping in!

ETA: The Q3 FAL finish list is now open so I'm linking up!

Finish Along 2014


  1. so lovely to hear from you again helen. great to see you've done so much sewing, and i'm delighted archiballs is making such a decent recovery xxx

  2. Oh, poor Archie! I'm so pleased he's on the mend, and looking as gorgeous as usual! They can give us quite a fright, these furry babies of ours, can't they? Rx

  3. So lovely to see Archie looking gorgeous and happy again! You've certainly had a busy few months, and I LOVE your cherry christmas quilt. Remember to pace yourself! Jxo

  4. Such beautiful blocks and quilts, I hope you will enjoy the handquilting and holiday movies. I am so glad Archie is better now, it is too bad he has to deal with all this fuss.

  5. Poor archie! Glad he's on the mend though. Your Christmas star is gorgeous. Love how the fabrics mix so well. Hope you enjoy handquilting it. Still cannot get over all those pieces in nicky's 9.5" block!

  6. You have been sewing up a storm! Great, if not a little bonkers blocks!
    Glad Archie is on the mend xxx

  7. Our babies can give us quite a shock can't they, when things go from normal to panic in a heat beat! Your sewing stuff looks awesome, I really like the monster (can't zoom in, nine patch and snowballs?) and Nicky's block is stunning

  8. Poor little love, glad he is on the mend. As I am sure he has told you, lots of biscuits help :-)
    Beautiful work, the Christmas star is gorgeous.

  9. Lovely sewing Helen ( and so much of it especially considering how fiddly some of it is). Glad Archie is feeling better

  10. awww, poor Archie! I'm glad he is doing ok, though. My cat had to have some blood tests the other day (she had lost loads of weight) and it was over 350 quid. Bloody hell - makes you appreciate the NHS even more!

  11. Hullo missus!! Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL sewing (that blue quilt does look massive...) and I can't wait to see what you've chosen for your block. But Archie!! Good grief, I had no idea you'd given your mum such a fright! I'm so pleased he's mending well, Helen. What a boy!! X

  12. Blue and white and Christmas cherry are looking great. Poor Archie, and why is it that pets Always need treatment out of hours? I'm so glad he is feeling better.

  13. You have been busy! Great makes Helen :) Poor Archie! I hope the vet gives you good news :)

  14. Poor Archie. I love those pictures, especially the last one. He is really giving you daggers. My boy has been unwell for months, restricted to lead walks and he was going stir crazy, but now, thanks to pills, dieting and lots of money changing hands he is off lead again. We love them like children.

    1. Yes, he really does hate having a wash and isn't afraid to let everyone know how badly he is treated! I hope your boy continues to get better and the magic pills get cheaper!!

      I hope you see this message - I can't reply via email as you're a 'no-reply blogger' (probably due to Google+) and I can't track you down. If you email me then I can save your address and reply properly!

  15. Aw, poor Archie, I'm glad he's feeling better but all that trauma can't have been pleasant. Lovely to read your update and you have gorgeous projects there. Love your cherry quilt. You reminded me I want to make a scrappy one :-)

  16. Poor Archie (and poor Helen) I'm glad he is doing so well now. You've been really busy too - that snowflake block is incredible.

  17. I'm so pleased Archie is on the mend! He is so gorgeous, as are all your makes here - very impressed!

  18. Oh, poor Archie and you. Glad you are both on the mend. I love the photo of Archie in the corner in the sunshine, with his head up against the wall, he looks so sweet. I've pinned it to one of my boards. I couldn't resist.

  19. Whew, that was quite the few months of activity!

    Loving all the makes, and hope himself is back to normal again soon - Jack's sending him some virtual doggie biscuits

  20. Vof Archie! It's Nero, your friend here. I'm soooo happy to hear you are at home and sounds like yourself again. It's not fun to get 'less young'. I have today my 10th birthday - WHO could believe. You look also so Young that I forget always that you are not 4-5 years old. Your mom has made gorgeus quilts and blocks! She loves the white-blue! Get well soon my friend! Hugs from Nero

  21. That's a lot of sewing indeed.
    I like your Christmas Cherry best. And the last picture of Archie. Why has he got this particular look? What did you do to him?.

  22. Lots of great news here. If all you did was that block for Nicky, that would have been enough ; )
    It's amazing

  23. Think Tess & Claudia when I say, "Keeeeep Posting".
    You must have had an awful fright with poor Archie & you are so clever to capture his expressions on film! So glad he is on the mend.
    I also love the idea of hand quilting to Christmas films, might even join you - ha!!

  24. Poor Archie - that must have been really scary! Glad he's on the mend. That block for Nicky has made me want to go for a lie down! Good to see you again and as Sheila said, Keeeeep posting!

  25. Poor Archie boy! Glad to hear he's on the mend, and that you've been nice and busy. I love everything you've been working on, but especially the Christmas Cherry - I want one!

  26. Poor Archie! I do love him so. You take the best photos of him! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you!!

      I hope you see this message - I can't reply via email as you're a 'no-reply blogger' but if you email me then I'll save your address and reply properly!

  27. Looks like Archie is as tough as his owner :) and that snowflake! I love all that teeny tiny piecing!!!

  28. Sorry that you'd had an ME 'dip' - but pleased that you are starting to get over it a bit, although the worry with Archie can't have helped at all. Great work on the quilts - and lovely that you still have (quite ambitious!) quilting goals. Good for you! Hope that nothing else happens to set either you or Archie back again.

  29. You're back.....I'm back! LOVE all the quilt are so perfectly clever BUT....more importantly...Archie!!!! Please give him a big hug from me....I'm sure he's nearly human...those faces....what a character. Get Well Soon Archie <3 <3 <3 xxxx

    Keep on top of your health Helen, even if I'm not here to comment I do read your posts and think about you and usually tick your Archie box! x

  30. Phew Helen what a fright poor Archie gave you!!! Sopleased to hear that he is on the mend and hoping he gets the all clear from the vet soon. Lots of lovely intricate makes from you especially Nicky's block. That is going to be an amazing quilt. I really like your Christmas quilt and hooe you get to enjoy quilting it leading up to the festivities. Take good care of yourself. Xxx

  31. SO sorry to hear about. Poor Archie. Hope he continues to make progress!

  32. Just caught up on all your posts. You've been accomplishing lots of beautiful work - but I am going to concentrate on that final photo of Archie. Priceless!

  33. Oh poor Archie, I hope he is well on the mend, I love those photos of him

  34. Poor Archie! I'm so glad he seems to be getting better. Your sewing projects are beautiful. You have been busy :)

  35. Glad to hear Archie is recovering so well. A friends dog had the same sort of episode a couple of years ago, but he didn't recover at all. I love your snowflake block for Nicky. Such accuracy! I don't think that could be achieved with a machine. I'm always worried about fraying with such small pieces. Did your fabrics fray much?

  36. I love the snowflake block!
    Poor Archie. That last photo is hilarious though. He's looking very hard done by :)


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