Tuesday, 29 December 2015

FAL 2016 Hosts!

There is big news for the 2016 Finish - A - Long!

For those of you who are new to the FAL, it is a place to find motivation and encouragement to complete those unfinished projects that are hanging about becoming UFOs. Every quarter you post a list of projects you hope to finish in the next three months, and then at the end of the quarter, you post a link (from your blog, Flickr or Instagram) of each successful finish from your original list. Each finish is an entry for wonderful prizes from our sponsors.

The FAL has grown and grown since Rhonda - now Rhonda's Ramblings - started it in 2012 in the USA. It moved to Canada in 2013 where Leanne - She Can Quilt - hosted it, then in 2014 it was off to Scotland in the UK where Katy - The Littlest Thistle - was in charge, and in 2015 it moved to New Zealand where Adrianne - On the Windy Side - has been doing the honours. And it really has become too big for just one blogger.

So the 2016 FAL is going global - a community of bloggers across the world will be jointly hosting the FAL. Our hosts will be:

There will be shared link-ups that you only need to join on one blog for your links to appear on all the hosting blogs. Otherwise, the FAL will remain mainly unchanged and we are hoping that everyone will join us.

Please link up your Q4 2015 finishes with Adrianne at On the Windy Side, from December 31, 2015 through to January 6, 2016.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

And please plan to join the 2016 FAL. The Q1 link for your proposed list of finishes will open on January 7, 2016, on all of the new community hosts.

In the meantime, you can grab the 2016 FAL button and follow along with everyone in the hosting community. 
(This will take you to the 2016 FAL page on my blog - if you want it to take you to another host's blog then please alter the code!  I use http://www.mycoolrealm.com/sandbox/gbgen/)

FAL 2016

FAL 2016

For 2016, please use the hashtag #2016FAL on Instagram and other social media and follow the FAL IG account @finishalong.  (I'm not on Instagram but am on Twitter (@Archiewonderdog), feel free to tweet me!)  There's also a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/2016FinishALong.

Archie is also looking forward to being a host but what he's looking forward to even more is being able to eat his hedgehog!  The vets' receptionist gave him it as a Christmas present but he isn't supposed to eat anything other than his special food, so every few days I'm using secateurs (the only thing strong enough!) to cut off a little bit.  He's being very patient but after this photo was taken and the hedgehog was back in his hidey hole, Archie searched the downstairs of the house for him!  (He didn't find him...)

So far I've had two feet and a leg - when do I get to eat his head?!

Don't forget to link up your Q4 2015 FAL finishes with Adrianne between 31st December 2015 and 6th January 2016!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

FAL Finish: Lace Wrap

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

One of the knitted items on my Q4 2015 FAL list was a lace wrap.  This is how it looked when I wrote the list:

Lace wrap

It's knitted using Sublime extra fine merino (2ply) and is a free pattern (find it here).  I'll be honest, it was really boring to knit and I ended up forcing myself to do at least one twelve row repeat each day before I was allowed to do any other (more interesting) knitting or sewing!

This is how it looked once it was off the needles but before blocking:

Off the needles!

Blocking it was also tedious - I've never blocked something that's supposed to be completely straight but has stocking stitch (and therefore curled) borders and it's not something I'm going to rush to do again.  I don't have a picture of it blocking but I ended up cobbling together a Heath Robinson-type affair with pins stuck in the carpet and crochet cotton.  Here it is after blocking:


The yarn is gorgeously soft and lovely to knit with - I'd use the yarn again, just not with this pattern!  Here's a closer photo of the lace pattern, not the most interesting pattern in the world, I think you'll agree!  However, the person I knitted it for is very happy with it and that's what matters!


This is likely to be my last post before Christmas so I hope you all have a happy, healthy and peaceful time.  I'd like to thank you for all the lovely comments you've left and support you've given me this year - I may not blog often (hoping to change that next year but I'll believe that when it happens!) but I do enjoy it and I hope you do too!

Archie also likes the perks of blogging: the biscuits!  (Note the difference in his co-operation level when biscuits are included in the photo-taking process!  If you're in any doubt, have a look at the photos of him in my last post, taken sans biscuits!!)

Come on, biscuit, come to me!  You know you want to...I can hear you calling my name!
You've just come in carrying a turkey and a ham, what do you mean 'None of it's for you!'?  Who are you trying to kid?

Thanks for popping in!!

P.S.  If you never seem to get a reply to your comments then it's highly likely you're a 'no reply' blogger - here is how to fix it.  In the meantime, I've started replying to NRB in the comments section, it's the best fix I can think of when I can't track down an email address.  Recent NRB commenters include Marie, RubySue, Kate Chiconi, and Jessie Aller.  If you'd like a reply from me then please include your email address (in a 'myname (at) provider (dot) whatever' if you prefer) and I'll get back to you!  Thanks!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

FAL Finish: Hardanger Pennants

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Back in July, I put this (very boring) photo on my FAL list (and again in October, on my Q4 2015 FAL list):

Secret project

That was all I could show as it was a surprise make for a friend, I couldn't even show the pattern, just in case she knew I had a blog (I don't think she does but...) and stumbled across the photo!  I've failed to take a photo of the pattern (by Emie Bishop) and have since given it back to (a different) friend but you can see it here (in case you fancy making your own).

After many (many!) hours of stitching, cutting and more stitching, I have finished this project!  I managed to take some progress photos but not many, I'm afraid!  Here's what I have:

I started by cutting the piece of (32 count) linen into four pieces and zigzagging round the edge of each piece (to stop fraying).  I then tacked in the vertical centre (don't think you can see it in the photos but it is there...in pale pink) and then stitched the kloster blocks on each piece, using perle 8 (#712):

Hardanger - a start

I then added the left-hand bouquet, the letter (both in two threads of stranded cotton) and the satin stitch frame:

Hardanger - L in progress

I did the same part on each piece, mainly so that I could get those bouquets out of the way!  As you can see in the photo, there are little bits of colour dotted all over so there was no nice rhythm to the stitching - a bit of light green here, a square of pink next to it, a square of pink thirty threads to the left and ten threads up, etc.  I knew that if I was going to stall anywhere, it would be on those bouquets so I decided to get them over and done with.   The letters and the satin stitch frame, in contrast, were lovely to do!

Next were the satin stitch hearts - these were supposed to be done in perle 8 but I wasn't buying a whole ball just for twelve small hearts so I used three strands of the stranded cotton used in the bouquets (in the same shade as the perle would have been) instead:
Hardanger - progress

Next was the other bouquet (almost the same as the left-hand one but not quite), the blanket stitch border, some pulled thread work and thread cutting (eek!):

Harganger - needle weaving next!

I've failed to get a photo of any of the pieces after the needle weaving (the bit in the middle of the kloster blocks, where all those threads are in the photo above) but after that it was time to cut them out along the edge of the blanket stitch border and create a pocket for the hanger (as well as the twisted cord from which they would hang).

And here's what I've been making:





Secret sewing - not so secret any more!
Excuse the not-very-elegant hanging arrangement!  I'm sure my friend will arrange it better on her Edwardian (and gorgeous!) mantelpiece!

And, because I believe the back of your work should be (almost) as nice as the front and certainly as neat, here are a couple of 'backside' photos:
N - back
 I love the hem stitch used to create the hanging pocket - such a great stitch and one I will use again!
NOEL - back

And a final photo of the front, just because I can!


I'm so pleased to have this finished in time for Christmas so my friend can hang it from her mantelpiece (I think she was going to anchor each of them with a glass paperweight, which I bet looks lovely) and (hopefully!) enjoy it.

Archie has taken to dodging the camera.  He looks straight at me until I lift the camera and then he turns away right at the last moment!  A couple of weeks ago I took several photos of the side of his head (and many, many blurry photos of him turning away!) and these were the best (I/he had a fellow dog walker in kinks!):

No, I won't look at the camera.
There's something far more interesting down there than you and that thing.
All right, then.  I'll look at the camera, but you needn't think I'm going to look cheerful as well.
Go on *sighs* you can have one good photo of me, but only one mind!
I said one.  Do you think I'm daft?  I can count, you know!  I demand an apology...and a biscuit.

I think I'm going to have to re-introduce biscuits into the photo-taking process!  Well, not proper biscuits, he's not allowed those any more.  The vet diagnosed him with colitis (on top of everything else!), so he's on special food and he's allowed that and only that.  Goodness knows how I'm going to break it to him that he won't be allowed those handmade cheese biscuits that Susan brings him...with a bit of his food pretending to be a biscuit/treat, perhaps?!

Thanks for popping in - I have more FAL finishes to share so I hope to be back soon(ish)!

Monday, 9 November 2015

FAL Finish: Hexy Quilt


Back in July 2011, Lynne and Gayle started the Hexalong.  About a month later, I decided to join in and, just over four years later, I've finished the quilt!  (I'm not sure how many other Hexalong quilts have been started and/or finished but there are times when I've felt like the only one still plodding hexing along!)

This was my initial fabric pull, bought from various UK shops:

Hexie fabric has landed!

Not all of these fabrics made it into the quilt (second, fourth and fifth from left were culled) and lots more stash fabrics were added as I went along.  In the end, I used just over 60 different fabrics.

This was the first hexagon I made:

My HAL has started!

I found pieced hexagon patterns from all over (Lynne and Gayle's blogs, traditional quilt block books, my head) and decided what to make as I went along.  I took group photos at various stages to help keep me motivated (although that wasn't really necessary, I loved every minute of piecing these hexagons and was sad when I finished the last one):

My camera really doesn't like the colour of my carpet - it seems to make it bleach all the colour out of the thing(s) I'm photographing!
101 pieced hexies

Once they were all pieced (here's a post showing all the hexies in 'family' groups), I spent a few days arranging them on the floor on a fleece blanket (so it could be rolled up if necessary):

Arranging hexies 4

I started piecing them together and initially I made them into 'blobs' and then joined the blobs together but soon realised that it was easier to attach them one at a time to the main group:


Each hexagon was labelled with a number (I used a hexy map to keep me right!) and once a hexagon was surrounded, the label was removed.

Five months after starting to join the hexagons together (and about 21 months after piecing my first hexagon), all 178 hexagons (over 2000 pieces) were joined:

All the hexies are stitched together!

I added a couple of borders and the top was finished:

It's finished!

Quite a while later, the quilt was tacked and ready for hand quilting, I just needed to decide on a quilting design.  I knew I wanted it to be fairly simple, and I also knew I didn't want to have to go through the centres of the hexagons as some of them had twelve seams meeting which would make life difficult.  In the end, I decided on straight lines in a white Gutermann Sulky 30wt thread (thread weight/brand chosen after some testing).

I started the hand quilting (in Gutermann Sulky 30wt) some time in July 2013 and by December of that year had made a little progress:
Quilting progress

Progress was slow because some of the seams were difficult to hand quilt through; in the end I stab stitched through them and then did my normal 'rocking' stitch through the rest (I hand quilt in a hoop, using two thimbles - one on the top and one underneath).  I'm so glad I stuck with the hand quilting, though, as it gives a much softer look to the quilt than machine quilting would have done.

By July of this year I had finished the quilting, but I dithered about what to use for binding.  In the end, a planned catch up with Danielle (who was visiting family nearby) propelled me into action and I chose Kona Shadow.  Even that was not without its minor disasters: the first lot of fabric I ordered (from a shop I don't usually use) was stained right across the three-quarter of a metre cut but I didn't notice until I'd washed and ironed it and was cutting the strips.  That shop didn't have any more (and I wouldn't have wanted it anyway - I got a refund, eventually) but Justine and Lisa at Simply Solids (my usual port of call for Kona!) came to my rescue and my binding fabric arrived the day before I was due to meet Danielle.  I washed, dried and ironed it in record time and by 9pm that night I had the binding on the front, ready to stitch to the back while I chatted to Danielle the next morning.  A couple of nights later though, I discovered (when I only had about 40" left to stitch down) that three of the four corners were dreadful (as is this night time photo!):


I ripped off all the binding bar the one good corner and re-attached it the next afternoon.  A couple of days after that, the quilt was finally finished!


And with much better corners!


I've picked out a few of my favourite hexies and you can just about see the quilting lines, too (my camera doesn't really do close-ups so this is as good as you'll get unless you come to see it in person!):

A few of my favourite hexies
Flickr links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Quilt Stats:

Started: July 2011
Finished: October 2015
Piecing: by hand (NOT EPP!!!) (2221 pieces in the top!)
Quilting: by hand.  Straight lines, using Gutermann Sulky 30wt (I used almost 300m of thread)
Design: various traditional blocks as well as designs/inspiration from Lynne Goldsworthy and Gayle Brindley.  Information about the quilt which inspired the Hexalong can be found here.
Fabrics: various (60), both bought for the project and from stash/scrap boxes
Backing: Spot-on wide in aqua
Wadding: Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 bleached (white)
Binding: Kona Shadow
Size: 67.5" x 84"

I'll be linking up with Adrianne when the time comes - you can find my Q4 2015 FAL list here.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Archie continues to seek out the sun whenever it deigns to appear:


As well as being diligent in licking out any packets (I thought he'd been a while!):


His tummy bottom still isn't right but I'm changing his food from teatime tonight and I'm hoping that's going to help - he's moving to a food designed for 'senior' dogs (which is for dogs over seven - I wonder if they do a 'senior senior' food?!) with sensitive tummies/digestion.  If that doesn't help then it's back to the vet (again!) to see if he needs some tummy protectors and/or a 'medical' dog food.  Please cross your fingers that the new food works!  He's fine in himself, though - still keen on food, fusses and walks, just as he always has been.  He's definitely a 'glass half full' dog!

Thanks for popping in!

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