Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Love With Rainbows

After seeing Stitched in Colour's 'bottled rainbow' QAL, it reminded me quite how much I love the full *pow* paintbox effect.  Now I've been dilly dallying around of late, not updating my blog but instead worrying about work and starting to make more things.  So today's post is going to be filled with rainbows!

First up we have this beautiful selection of Anchor perle 8 cotton:

Now there are 50 colours here and I had great fun organising them into a rainbow.  I'm also rather excited to start hand quilting with them on my new rainbow quilt (see further in this post).  I bought so many because they were £21 (incl p&p) from this seller on Ebay that's based in London.

Having all these colours around along with other patinbox style quilts I've seen on the blog-o-sphere (sorry I can't remember who did the wonderful one for her teenage son with the apple logo!), all these made me think that I wanted to try and make my own little version.

My sketch for the quilt...

I was so excited by this project that I went through my stash straight-away to decide which fabrics would go where.  I wanted it to be mostly solid colours with just a few dots or tone on tone prints to complete the paintbox effect.

Here it is a-waiting the sashing and border, which will be done in Kona solids Ash and then I think I'll get to work with the Perle 8 doing a simple design.  Haven't figured out the design yet but there's time.

Can you spot which pattern is which?

Now I'm preparing to head to Vancouver in the morning for a working holiday, so will be forced to leave my quilting at home.  Instead I'm taking some knitting which will be in time a lace shawl using this beautiful Jade Green yarn.

It took ages to wind it from the skein into a ball.  At times like that I think perhaps I should experiment with having a yarn winder...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Modern Relief Japan

Over at Modern Relief Japan there is a chance to win one of 75 quilts that will have been kindly donated by a variety of wonderful crafty bloggers out there.  To enter all you need to do is put in an auction bid of $10.  That's only £6.37!! You'd be in with a chance of winning something beautiful but more importantly, you'll be helping a wonderful cause.

Here are some statistics that were posted over at Little Island Quilting:

29,000 - the number of people either dead or missing

23 - the years worth of debris that was dumped on just one area affected by the  tsunami 

3 - the number of years it will take to clear up the mess

500,000 - the number of households still without running water 

1,200 - the number of years since the last time an earthquake of this magnitude hit Japan

800 - the average number of kilometers per hour that a tsunami races across an ocean

800 - the average kilometers per hour cruising speed of an aircraft

 10 - the small amount in US dollars it'll cost you to enter the Modern Relief raffle to be in with a chance of winning any number of lovely quilts that have been donated. All monies raised are going to Mercy Corps, one of a number of charities currently directing help to Japan

6.37 - the amount in UK pounds to enter the Modern Relief raffle...

Go on.  Click on the Modern Relief button at the side, next to this post and become one of the entrants.  You'll be doing some good too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Homemade Mother's Day Treats

In the UK today is Mother's Day, so I thought I'd be a good daughter and come up to visit my Mum.  I had the joys of helping Scott (my step-dad type person) prepare a dinner for the family.  This year me, my mum, her mum, Scott and my step-brother were there for dinner.  My main contribution for dinner was doing the sugar topping on the creme brulee.  I think they've come out rather well, don't you?

Scott made the body of the creme brulee complete with proper vanilla pods.  It was served with raspberries and strawberries.  Yumtastic!  I'll be trying to make it again.

Anyways... I really wanted to show you all pictures of the Tea-cosy I made for my mum using Liberty Art Prints fabric that I found in John Lewis, Oxford Street.  

Isn't it bright? A friend said it made her think of a summer in Greece.  Ideal for the rainy day here.

It was a bit of an adventure for me because I had no pattern, so I designed one!  I'm noticing this to be a bit of a habit of mine.  I love sitting there with an image in my head, figuring out how to make the item and then launching ahead.  

Basted and ready to quilt!
It fitted together beautifully in the end.  I used a simple cross-hatch quilting in a sage coloured Coats cotton thread and the bottom trim is Kona Solids in Sage.  I had that fabric in my stash anyway.  Enough talking, here is the picture:

Taken in my mum's 'garden room'!
When I gave it to Mum yesterday she was thrilled because I'd taken the time to make it for her.  She was impressed that I designed it too.  She was particularly impressed because I only learnt to use a sewing machine at the end of November.  How things are coming along!

I've linked this up to QuiltStory's Fabric Tuesday.  Please click on the button at the side to have a look at their loverly blog that showcases a variety of modern quilt designers!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Spring Quilty Adventure

I'm linking up to Quilt Story for there Fabric Tuesdays.  Be sure to look at some of the other wonderful projects that are out there.  I hope they won't mind that this is a WIP (work in progress).  It's just it's the most on a single project I've ever done in one day and I'm really excited with how it's coming along and would love to have some feedback.


Last weekend I went to visit my dear friend Kirsty (her blog = Fatty Unbound) in Brighton for some quality girlie catch up time, oodles of crafting and lots of pootling.  There was even time for an ice cream on the beach!

Now Kirsty isn't a quilter but when I'd found the shop Quilty Pleasures online. I knew I wanted to visit, as I'd never been to a *just* modern quilting shop before.  Kirsty was happy to pander to my crafting desires as we tend to encourage each other with our various crafts.  Anyways whilst I was there, I fell in love with the Hideaway line by Lauren and Jessi Jung. I bought myself a charm pack and 0.75m of the circles on snow.  Now despite this small purchase of the line (I keep wondering why I didn't go for the layer cake), I decided that I wanted to make myself a lap quilt using these fabrics.  There was no specific date or timeline to work on this project because I have several other things on the go.  But... yesterday was so perfectly spring-like, the colours in the fabric spoke to me and inspiration struck.
A view of the tree that is in front of my kitchen window.  It makes washing up feel less of a chore.

I decided to take this inspiration and see what would happen.  I didn't plan. I didn't design.  I just pulled out some co-ordinating solids (Kona Robin's Egg Blue and Lemon, plus Klona grass green and white) and wanted to see what would happen when I let myself loose with the blocks and fabric.  It's a first for me.  Here are a few progress shots that show the beginning of the day (afternoon):

Testing out fabric combinations and playing.

Blocks beginning to form

From these two photos it is difficult to tell how the project will look once the blocks are formed, sashing put in place and the colours allowed to settle together.  However I did take a few more photos of the blocks laid out in various layout ideas: 

Several blocks laid out on top of the backing fabric
However the above photo was taken before my quilting mission was finished.  I ended the day of 8+ hours of cutting & sewing with 14 blocks made (each = 8"), a design for the rest of the quilt, the backing figured out and it was all coming together happily.  Before I launch into sewing all the pieces together I laid them out on my bed (apologies for the wrinkled duvet!) and I think I'm happy with how it looks:

Now I've just another 6 more blocks to make to go along the top and bottom of the quilt.  These will be like the one that sits on its own with the 4 little squares in it.  Simple design but oh so fun.  The sashing will be bands of the solids and then a border in the Hideaway Egg.  Hurrah!

- I've changed the comments from Disqus back to Blogger, so I can reply to people via email.  This does mean that I've just lost a chunk of comments.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hand Quilting

I've had a conspicuous absence from my blog recently a I was lost in the spring rush where all academic deadlines occur at the same time. Now I have some space to breathe with just one week's worth of teaching left for this academic year. However before Christmas I will have a full version of my phd so it's going go be a tough slog but one where crafting will provide a much needed haven.

Anyways back to crafting, quilting more specifically. A few weeks ago I posted some pictures of the beginning of my sampler quilt that uses the Quilt as you go method. I've done another block, which I'm quite proud of because it represents the fruits of my first foray into the world of hand quilting.

I used the big stitch quilting style with perle 8 cotton thread in a navy blue. I'm planning on having this as the central panel of my sampler quilt.

I think I've fallen in love with hand quilting... I love the rocking motion and the thimble and the soothing nature of doing it. I'm surprised. I think I'll still be doing machine quilting too though :)

Although I've been blog absent I've been working on several projects that include: a 2 rib scarf in a blue variegated yarn with pink foil accents; the knitted tie (I'm going to write up a pattern for this as I've designed it specially. It'll be simple but for me a test of patience as it isn't the most exciting); some free embroidery; and another little hand quilted mug rug but that's another surprise present so no pics yet.

Now I've discovered the ability to blog from my phone it should be easier to update. Off for a crafty extravaganza in Brighton this weekend. Hurrah!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dog in a House and A Sampler Begins

The past week has been filled with Ph.D. writing, lecturing, some crafting and my 26th birthday celebrations.  I'm pleased to announce that there were some spare hours for quilting and crafting in amidst the other duties and joys.

My first finished mug rug I've named 'Dog in a House'.  There were oodles of firsts involved with this project: fussy cutting, free-hand cutting without a ruler, designing a block, free-motion quilting and doing a binding not just on right-angle cornered squares.  I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out in the end:

It was a little present for my Mum to have in her office whilst she works from home.  I started from the dalmatian (a childhood love of 101 Dalmatians) helped and then allowed the block to build up from there. Hurrah a titchy project all finished.  I'm hoping to squeeze in some time to make another little one for my Grandma's 85th birthday this weekend.

In other news, I attended the intermediate quilting and patchwork class at my LQS (The Workshop) just over a week ago, as a birthday present to myself.  It seemed ideal: a Sunday spent quilting with a few others and the loverly teacher. In the class we tackled 3 new (to us) blocks [bow-tie, half-square triangles and a sawtooth star], basic applique, free motion quilting, echo quilting and how to the quilt as you go method where you finish a block and attach them.  Here are my results:

The completed sampler block.

This shows off the quilting. I'm most pleased with the flower top-right, as it was done in one continuous motion and my first of the class!

The first block.  The bow-tie block.  Fun and easier than I thought it would be!

My first attempt at half square triangles.  The points were close but not perfect, though I did realise the peril of having used a directional fabric pattern when it came to putting them together.

My 1st attempt at applique using fusible webbing and then doing outline/echo quilting.  Not bad for a first go, though I think I'd use a tighter zig-zag stitch around the heart itself next time.

My sawtooth star.  I'm quite chuffed with this little fellow.  Since I was the only one in the class, who wanted to do this block (the others did log-cabins), I taught myself.  Not bad beside the missed points on the top and bottom middle triangles.  I want to use triangles more often.  I also like how I quilted around the little birds to highlight them.
This sampler is going to be turned into a full-sampler over a period of time but I think it will be a long time.  I'm going to tackle a different 10" block each time to learn new skills, practice different block layouts and use my tests/ experiments to become an object I love.  Perhaps it will be for my bedroom.

This birthday thanks to my crafting party (more about that soon) turned into a wonderful one.  It helped, as I'd been finding the thought of this one tough because it's the first one I've had after my Dad died last May (15th, 2010). Crafts (quilting and knitting in particular) have offered me solace at times when the world felt too difficult. It has taught me to be kind to myself and others.  I look forward to having the energy to do a UK based charity bee soon (post-May I'm thinking).  

Oh there will be a small giveaway happening soon to celebrate my first 1,000 blog hits...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Craftivism and Crafting for Charity

Craftivism (or activism in the form of making crafts) is something that seems to be increasing in popularity in line with the resurgence in crafts over the past decade.  It's something that I've dabbled with over the years.  Baking and gifting them all to random people that I meet around London.  Baking to raise money for Haiti that was done in conjunction with I Knit London.  As you can see to date they've been baking related but I wanted to dabble in other crafts, particularly quilting since it is my recently discovered passion.  I've read about do. Good Stitches over at Rachel Hauser's blog (Stitched in Colour) where they have a virtual quilting circle that then makes a quilt to donate to a charity of the circle's choice.  I thought this was a wonderful idea but noticed they're mostly American based.  Once my PhD and other academic work settles down a bit, I'd love to help set up or be involved in a UK based version...  Any interest?

Anyways, the reason all of this is at the forefront of my mind tonight is that earlier this evening I attended the Shoreditch Sisters W.I.  meeting where they were stitching vulvas.  These are 7" square patches that will then be turned into a pieced top (perhaps a quilt?) that will raise awareness for the charity FORWARD (Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development).  FORWARD's aim is to protect the sexual rights of African girls and women, particularly against female genital mutilation (FGM). A spokesperson from the charity told us that 24,000 women are subjected to FGM each year in the UK (where it is illegal) and the figures are c.3 million across the world.  This is a subject that needs consideration and for the public profile to be raised, since it often lurks in the realm of the unmentionable. The finished pieced top will be displayed at Coco de Mer a women's luxury sex-shop filled with delights.  There will be a launch event with the Shoreditch Sisters, FORWARD and other charities that tackle FGM present.  The date is yet to be announced...

I'm afraid I don't have any photos of the patch that I made because I already donated it to the Shoreditch Sisters ready for the quilt.  Mine featured a touch of embroidery (stem stitch and chain stitch but neither brilliantly done) but was mainly some applique with fronds of lace. 

However should any of you loverly blog folk want to sew, embroider or knit or other wise craft a 7x7 inch patch featuring a vulva for the Shoreditch Sisters W.I. Embroideries Project, they can be posted to :

5a Gransden Avenue
E8 3QA
United Kingdom

For more information on the project please visit the Shoreditch Sisters blog and FORWARD.

Oh... in the process of writing this blog post, I was pootling around Facebook and have discovered the London-based Craftivist Collective, which clearly needs further investigation.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Delights

My academic work and general life has taken me away from my crafting a fair bit in the past week or so but all with great results.  I am in the midst of a knitting project that I won't post WIP photos of as it is a special present for my dear boyfriend, which unfortunately won't be finished today. I have been knitting it thinking of him whilst he's working, so there is love in the air at my house. Here are a few crafty activities that I've been up to in the past week.

I baked heart-shaped scones.  Here's a picture of them before they were in the oven, actually baked a week ago but only put some pics up now.  We were too excited by them to take photos, instead they devoured with jam and cream. Yum. Yum.

This weekend I took some time out to work on my animal quilt some more, which I'm working a bit too slowly on me thinks.  I need to get my act on, as I've at least 6 more blocks to make at a minimum.  I am considering off-setting the bright colours with lots of cream sashing then quilting on it with turquoise thread...

Fabrics are: moda essential dots, moda marbles and Eleanor Grosch blue whales

These are my log cabin blocks. One has ended up slightly wonky and the other I did on of the measurements a bit wrong, so we've two pieces of the darker turquoise the same.  I've decided I'm going to leave them as it is because they are my training wheels.  Perhaps I'll turn this quilt into a bit of a sampler too... Decisions decisions.  Maybe next time it would be simpler to follow a pattern than devise my own.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Work Eating up Craft Time

This past week has been great in terms of my career (first ever lecture given, seminars led, great supervision, PhD chapter progressing etc.) but it's been so busy that I've had no time to sit with fabric and play.  It can be summarised with the following picture:

My dear friend Kirsty (Fatty Unbound) bought me this mug at Sally Bourne Interiors last Friday (part of the Barboot that is organised in my corner of North London).  We fell in love with them, as they are so cute and made by the shop.  They also do mugs saying: 'I'd rather be sewing' and 'I'd rather be knitting'.  I bought her the sewing one, as she has recently fallen in love with making her own clothes and dressses.  The mug cheered me up and gave me a smile whilst I was doing work prep, thinking of friends and other fun stuff. Yay for friends, craft, work and happy times.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Silly Brain...

I managed to call the line 'Tufted Tweeds' instead of 'Tufted Tweets'.  I'm sorry loverly birds and fabric.  Please do forgive my lapse in attention.  I blame the absence of caffeine in my blood-stream at the time of writing the post.  A girl has to learn!