Sunday, 24 September 2017

Bright Baby Quilt

A friend asked me to make a quilt for her soon to be born first grandson.  "Pastel colours or bright" I asked, secretly hoping for bright. "Bright" she said. So I hope she isn't going to regret it!

I cut and stitched last weekend - after having had the fabrics for a few weeks and not being able to come up with a design.  Zara is a maths teacher so I though she might like tessellating shapes.
I chose a simple quilting design as I was running out of time. I think sunglasses might be required!
Front view

And back view.  It's all made in cotton so will wash easily.  It can be a cot quilt or used as a play mat if she prefers.  I just need someone to have a baby girl who also wants  a pink and pretty broderie anglaise type quilt.  Everyone is having a boy.

I've just been to the airport to pick Steph and John up.  They 'popped' over to Spain for the weekend to search out wedding venues. They are going to get married in this country - just them and their witnesses is the plan at the moment. The Spanish trip will be a blessing ceremony or whatever it's known as.  They are hiring a villa for everyone for a week. 20 - 30 people. Some people are staying the whole time and making a holiday of it and some are just staying a couple of days. They've found a villa in the mountains about an hour from Malaga Airport with views of the mountains and sea, safe for the boys and other little ones and pretty enough for a wedding celebration.   June 2018 is the probable date. Plenty of time to lose some weight and get fit - apparently it's very steep!

I looked after the boys on Thursday night as they needed to get up at 4am for the flight out, took them to school and nursery and then went to work. Steph's mother took over on Friday afternoon  and Saturday while I was at work. ( I think I had the easy stint!).  They had to get up at 4am again this morning to get the flight back which arrived in Newcastle at 9am.  It was the first time John has driven and it sounded like a baptism of fire as the roads in the mountains are primitive to say the least!

Unlike Steph and John though, I'm having a lazy day finishing things today:
The star table centre (22") is finished with a simple quilting in the ditch. It proved a little difficult for the ladies at the class who took it home with them. I think they're on the straight and narrow now though. Theirs are being made in 'true' Christmas colours. The sample is not Christmassy at all although I love the duck egg blue.  Everybody is wanting to sell fabric at Christmas, every Christmas, that they make up new colours every year and it's difficult to get soft old fashioned greens, golds and reds now.

I can feel some gingerbread designs coming on and they really don't look good in duck egg blue or pink or whatever colour the marketing departments say are 'on trend' (how I hate that expression).

A lovely drive around my beloved  Northumberland last weekend culminated in lunch at a farm shop near Corbridge. (Brocksbush Pick your Own Farm)  Home-made pie and salad for lunch - yum. Some lovely bread, cheese and fresh picked strawberries provided a lush breakfast the next morning.

and some jam for the Victoria Sandwich Cupcakes I made for the Thursday Night Quilt Class
 Cupcakes are easier for individual portions
A little Creme Fraiche instead of buttercream ( I also put some in the cake batter to make it extra moist)
Actually there is a lovely farm shop less than 10 minutes from work.  I discovered this on Friday when I went to get a strimmer for the garden.  I've been there before, but from home which is 35 mins from work. The Milkhope Centre has gorgeous shops, home decor, a kitchen shop, a garden tools centre, gallery, clothes store and a restaurant that makes quiche to die for.  Junction 80 on the A1(M) if you're in the area. All the shops are in converted farm buildings with a walk through the woods next to them. Especially needed to work off the calories taken on board in the cafe.  Try the local cheeses and vegetables grown on the farm if you go there. They don't get more fresh and local.

It's Yarndale this weekend but in no way could I justify the cost of going down and buying more yarn, much as I would have enjoyed it. I have so much to be getting on with. Now the Autumn Equinox has passed I will be doing more yarn work as this is easier to do in the darker evenings. 

So now I must go and do some household chores.  I might just have forty winks first though, or come to think of it I might pull out me yarns and see what is left to finish and what is waiting to be started. Squeak - that sounds like a good idea. Household chores - what household chores?

Friday, 8 September 2017

Hot on the Heels of the Boxes

I had some fabric left over from the boxes shown in the last post so I decided to make a table centre:
 This should work about 24" across when it's finished
It consists of four diamonds (made eight times). I have actually finished piecing this but didn't have a big enough square of wadding without breaking into one that I have set aside for a Durham Quilt.

The wadding is summer weight cotton which I got from the Sundown Quilt Show in June. It is really soft and drapy but it came off a roll and I can't remember who makes it. Not the normal companies.

Pictures of that when I either find or buy some 80/20 wadding.

Had an urge for custard creams this week but I didn't have time to chill the dough before cooking so I made little round ones that I rolled into balls and flattened - they tasted the same but looked very home-made!
I saw something on Pinterest this week and decided I HAD to do it.  Hilary at High Street Quilting has some gorgeous cotton lawn in at the moment which is just perfect.  I made a paper mock-up because I wasn't quite sure of the measurements
 I cut out one and stitched a sample ( I like to tack but I could have starched and/or used fabric glue)
 I love the delicate feel of the lawn.
 I cut out more centres (iron on wadding would help this process)
 I cut and tacked the outer hexagons
 Then spent a happy afternoon assembling them.

I loved doing this - you have to be incredibly accurate with cutting and stitching
 All seams are on the bias

I might make a Christmas version too.....  sorry did I say that word in September?

Monday, 28 August 2017

Boxed in this Bank Holiday

After a busy couple of weeks I came home from work on Saturday afternoon with the prospect of a quiet couple of days stitching. Oh joy. I had so much planned and whilst I never get as much done as I want, I'm happy I've got the balance of time right this weekend. I've read, washed clothes, cleaned the kitchen etc, had a couple of hours on the Affinity Designer Programme, learning how to make gradient colours, stitched, watched the Belgian F1 and slept!

I made a big tray of millionaire's shortbread, some for the ladies at the class, some for work, some for Will to take down to Lancashire and a couple for the cook!
The Victoria Plum harvest is in full swing too. I'm going to make some crumble (mmmm) but at the moment we are enjoying the fresh sweet fruits.
Over the past couple of weekends I've been busy with the Quilt-as-you-go blocks

but this weekend has been a one for boxes.  Based on a design I made a while ago (not mine - I think Eleanor Burns) I modified the pattern to update for the materials.
A simple Flying Goose with a little bit of stitchery,
A more elaborate stitchery

and a little box without a lid.  A four inch cube this time rather than a six inch cube.  These are for a class at High Street Quilting on 2nd December.
So just a little bit of ironing ready for the week ahead, (the last quiet week on the roads before the schools go back) and I'll sit back and watch some telly tonight - a murder mystery on BBC at 9pm.  I watched the first episode last night and am looking forward to the next. I feel refreshed and ready for the week ahead.  Oh and looking forward to the Great British Bake Off on Tuesday.  I'm going to record it because I hate adverts with a passion and I'll be able to fast forward. I do this all the time with things on commercial TV.  Until next time -  bisous from the sunny, windy,  North of England.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Just a quick one

I seem to have been running around like a headless chicken making things but have nothing really to show. Another block for the Quilt-as-you-go. I'm two blocks behind on the ladies at the class, I've done the patterns but not the block!
I think this block would make a lovely all-over design but you'd need a coloured chart to work from. This is next week's design. I just realised I can screenshot directly from my Affinity Designer programme. Well I never!
Loving the rainbow effect - yes I know there are eight shades in the block....
Hilary was asking about a workshop for a Christmas Box - this is an old one I dug out and will update   the fabrics.  The box is a 6" cube and I'm going to make a 4" cube with some stitchery on the front face too.  I did the little designs this morning and will prepare the materials this afternoon and evening. I've got so many things spinning round in my head but my hands just won't keep up with them.

I re-made the Ferro Rocher cake as cupcakes this week but they didn't translate so well, a bit dry.  I'm not sure whether I cooked them too long or the size just didn't work. The looked pretty although you will have to take my word for that - I forget to take a picture again!

So this is my short post this week.  It seems only five minutes since I drove home from work and I am just about to go and prepare some things for lunch tomorrow. A little smoked mackerel and beetroot salad with horseradish dressing. Yum, but I'll have to get some chewing gum to freshen the breath.  I don't want to breath that on the clients!

Monday, 31 July 2017

More Quilt as You Go

This nine, or sixteen block quilt (depends on the level of boredom which is creeping in and the amount of background fabric I have left) is coming on slowly. I made a pattern for the ladies but haven't made that block myself yet. In fact I'm a little behind now in comparison - how does that work? This is called the Diamond Star and is much simpler than it looks.
This is one of  blocks from the class last Thursday.  The light wasn't good and my phone is quite old so you can't see the beautiful rich purple background.
This lady's first quilt was soft browns and creams - 
This is Marilyn pinning her creation together ready to quilt. Just as a matter of interest the quilt below is made with exactly the same block but every other block has been rotated. They don't look like the same block at all do they?
She started off the present quilt with purples and is thoroughly enjoying branching out into bright colours, much to the disgust of her daughter-in-law!  You don't have to make quilts that match your decor all the time do you?  Colours make your heart sing. The purple one is singing loud and confident! I'll get a photo of the completed thing.

I've got another block on the go at the moment but I've done something  for the second time with this quilt - I've made a 9" block instead of a 12" block. I'll add another border.....
Perhaps I will get round to the Diamond Star too. I should really shouldn't I.

What about the crochet blanket?????

I tried a couple of different borders but ended up with a really simple one.  I wanted to have a slightly lacy edge but it looked naff in white or ecru.
I wanted something in keeping with the rest of the blanket, but not just stripes.  I ended up with a little cluster of shells on the final row which fits in nicely with the shape of the Maybelle Flower. Thankfully I had enough yarn.

I love the vintage look but at 30" x 36" it isn't a practical size for anything except a pram blanket and I just don't think it would stand up to the rigours of frequent washing.
There is quite a lot of the coloured yarn left now so I'm going to make some little discs from these and turn them into squares later.  I've ordered some Bergere de France Coton Fifty which is a close equivalent (also much cheaper than importing the original yarn from Sweden). If I just use this yarn for the border rows then it should work out ok.
I like the discs better than the square design even though it's quite like the maybelle flower (smaller though) and will just keep going until I run of of yarn.  This little thing should fit my 15 minutes per day goal. It's easy to get out, doesn't take any time to set up or put away and each little circle takes less than ten minutes. I got the pattern from Sue Pinner's book, 'Granny Squares' which has fabulously clear instructions. I found the Maybelle Blanket quite messy to do with the pattern instructing you to skip stitches quite a lot. Sometimes when I came to the bit where you had to skip a stitch it looked better and fitted better if I didn't skip the stitch.  I love the end result though.

The cakes from my 'bakery' this week were Tiramisu Cupcakes. Seen here at Hilary's because I forgot to take a picture at home.
Mocha cakes with marscapone topping flavoured with Calvados (the only spirit I had!).  I have had to make extra cakes recently because I take some to work as well. Will had four put aside to take down to Alex's this week but he forgot to pack them in the car.  Martyr that I am I managed to eat them before they went stale. The things you do for your kids.

Well I'm off to make some Macaroni Cheese for tea.  I've got some stewing beef in the fridge so I might put a casserole in the oven at the same time. I have to make sure I put the extra in the freezer for later before Will polishes it all off in one sitting. I always feel better coming home from work knowing there is something ready for dinner, so it's a disappointment when Will has scoffed it all before I get there! Until next time.  xx

Thursday, 27 July 2017

A little obsessed

I had lost a bit of my crafting mojo recently and it has come as a surprise that I have been spending every spare moment doing this little blanket from Annette at My Rose Valley.
I'm really not sure what I'm going to do with it yet.  Ostensibly it's a pram blanket but there are no recipients on the horizon. It's taken so long to do (not to say quite expensive to buy) that I'm not sure I want it to get the inevitable wear and tear of children's bedding.  However, this is where I am now.

I tried two different colours for the joining but thought it would be better to go with the ecru so my mistakes were less evident!

The thirty squares are together.
I thought this little braided join looked rather more delicate than joining the squares directly together, although if you look too closely there are heaps of bodges to get the squares to match.  I've done a treble crochet edge to straighten things up and am ready for the border.  Again I'm going to stray from the original and will be choosing from this book,

maybe these borders, but I'm a bit nervous about this because I only have a finite amount of yarn.  But then, what's the worst that could happen? I would just have to unpick if I ran out I suppose.

On the patchwork front there is another block waiting for the quilt as you go.
This is called 'Folded Corners' - sometimes I can see it straight away and sometimes I have to look a bit harder.

I've been researching a few different blocks to do for this just to stop us all from doing the 'usual' things.  I am attracted to the windmill variations I've found.  I've got so many projects rolling round in my head, but at the moment I'm not feeling the love. I really, really must take stock of what needs finishing off. And tidy my stuff, oh Lordy, I must tidy my stuff.  I think when I'm better ordered I will feel like taking up my needle again. Having a bad back for a few weeks took the energy out of me.  I'm pleased to say that I'm feeling much better now although still have a slight problem in the neck region which is affecting the strength in my right arm. It's a bit like having a rubber band at the elbow joint, a very strange sensation.

On the baking front we had a slightly lighter cheesecake this week, made with ricotta instead of mascarpone. It was pleasant but a bit fragile in comparison.

John Steph and the boys are on their way back from Portugal today. I've missed them, especially last weekend when Will was away too. Very quiet!  He's off to Southampton tomorrow with Alex to visit her father who has recently returned from two years in the Caribbean on a yacht.  They gave up/put on hold their jobs, sold their house, flew over to Florida and bought the boat.  The two children were 'home -schooled' - what a classroom, what an adventure!  Makes me feel very staid.

So back to my mess filled life. This weekend I'll really do some tidying.......maybe.......