Sunday, 24 June 2012

Midsummer's Day - really?

Today is Midsummer's Day.  Most people think that the 21st June is Midsummer, but it isn't, it's the Longest Day - a different thing altogether.  I know this because today is my birthday.  Now I'm not a great fan of the huge celebrations and I really don't like people to rush out and buy presents or cards.  I just like peace and quiet. John made cherry pancakes with nectarine sauce and a lovely pot of Machu Piccu coffee for breakfast.  I got some lovely presents from family and friends and have had a day mooching about doing something or nothing because,  despite today's name Summer hasn't arrived in this corner of the land yet. Look at my lovely card made by Alison.
I'm quite shy - at work they make a big fuss of everyone's birthdays - hugs and kisses, presents, 'happy birthday to you' at full volume. They didn't realise how uncomfortable that was for me.  They are very discreet now though and I found a lovely bouquet of flowers on my desk when I went in on Friday.  I'm very affectionate but maybe not that demonstrative.   When John and Steph lived down in Cambridge she couldn't understand why he never gave me a kiss goodbye.  She probably didn't even notice but when we say goodbye I touch his arm.  For me the giving and accepting of that touch has a far deeper meaning than hugs and kisses - people don't notice because it is so quick.

I've been sewing a bit of the mystery quilt this afternoon - here's a sneak preview:

Tomorrow it's the Quilting Bee at the Crafts House and the final part of the quillow instructions are all ready.  If anyone wants to bring their UFOs (unfinished objects) to class we can get on with those, but we also have a little bonus project - another technique to learn, so just turn up with a few scraps of fabric if you want.  We will be revealing the finished quillow and going through a couple of ways of putting it together but for now I'm going to leave the room because there is a box of choccies with my name on it and I'm trying not to wolf them down in one go!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Every quilt tested

I have just put the finishing stitches into Quillow Number 1 - there may be a few tweaks to the final part of the instructions because the envelope to put an extra piece of wadding didn't quite go to plan but hey ho!

This is the quilt inside its pillow.  I put a double piece of 6oz wadding into the cushion (I hate touching polyester wadding when I've been quilting because it catches on my rough finger tips).  I might try to quilt it into the block on Quillow Number Two but I've never tried to quilt something so thick. 

It's been a long day today.  We had no bread this morning so I decided to make a loaf before everyone got up - kneading gets your blood pumping for sure.  Actually I think it must be one of the nicest ways to start the day if you have the time.

Before and after!!  Trouble is it doesn't last too long once the gannets land. And of course you have to put lashings of butter on....

We actually went out to the farm shop to get some meat and ended up having a coffee and a bacon sandwich so there's enough bread left for breakfast tomorrow.  I love toast made from home baked bread because it has a bit of body to it - it doesn't shatter into shards or leave sawdust crumbs.

I have taken lots of pictures of the construction of the quillow because it is almost impossible to explain without pictures.  If the Governors' Meeting tomorrow doesn't go on too late (I've been there at 10pm a few times), then I will try to publish them when I get home.

For now though I am going to finish my quilt in the way I finish all the others I have ever made.  I have a little snooze under them.  Every quilt is tested by the management!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Quilting the quillow has started!

It's just gone seven and all is quiet.  Soon I'm going to have a cup of coffee and a cinnamon and raisin bagel. One of my weekend luxuries is making the start of the day topsy turvey.  Normally I get up, have a shower, make breakfast and load or unload a machine (washing, dishes etc).  Then I listen to the news, get dressed and then out to work by 7.20am.  At the weekend I still get up at 6am but I come downstairs and indulge myself with whatever project I'm working on. Then after about an hour I make something to eat. After that I go and have my shower.  It's saying to myself "You can get ready when you feel like it - or stay in your jammies all day if you want." (Ultimate luxury)

Today I'll be mainly quilting.  My aim is to finish one of my quillows to show how it is all put together at the next Mavis and Gladys session.  I did two blocks yesterday after returning from painting on the hill.

Ahh - the little strawberry hen has some legs! Knobbly knees!!  Painting on Saturday morning is the best way to start the weekend.  I go in stressed and come out chilled - who could ask for more?  When I eventually get a camera that is better designed for close up work you may be able to see more detail on the pictures.  The hen has little pips painted with a dotty tool - first some inky dots for the shadows and then some dark antique gold for the pips. Unfortunately no camera on earth will be able to compensate for my lack of photography skills....

Alison and I went to Dainty Supplies where I bought some 6oz polyester wadding to make some padding for my cushions.  The welcome cushion I made this week is 21" x 17" so I have folded some 6oz wadding to use as a cushion pad.  Think I might put another layer though - it's a bit skinny.  I'll be using some more to pad out the quillow cushion.  (It'll be constructed a bit like a pillow case so you can take the cushion pad out before washing - cushions never come out the same shape when they've been washed do they?).  I've loved doing the stitchery on the Welcome cushion.  The fabric is painted with my acrylics but with the addition of some fabric painting medium to keep the paint flexible.  It's very effective.  The design is then outlined with back stitch.  In this case I've used green around the letters and the elements of the letters (the carrot and the beehive).  The other bits are darker shades of the paint colours.  I've done a few cushions like this and they wear quite well although I do tend to keep them away from the chairs where the boys sit.

During the week (it's half term so I am a bit more flexible with my time at work), I went to Whitley Bay to visit my lovely and talented friend Barbara at Ring-a-Rosie.  I bought some backing fabric for the quillows and lo! and behold! only three fat quarters managed to find their way into my purchases! I must be getting strict in my old age.  Barbara still keeps some fabrics despite being mainly wool (and what wool!). These are new fabrics - Primitive Gatherings -

Stars and pumpkins on rich deep autumn colours - heaven!

I have only small amounts of housework on my list today as I've been keeping on top of everything during the week so I can quilt until my fingers can take no more. Oh and watch the Canadian Grand Prix too.  Multi-tasking Gladys style!

Monday, 4 June 2012

My pips are upside down

I'm having a wonderful break, painting, sewing, listening to my newest audiobook (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). I didn't see the film but I'm really enjoying the book.  I love curling up on the sofa with a bit of stitching and listening to a good story.  I've been painting a cushion.  I bought the pattern at Stitchin' Heaven - I'd forgotton how much I enjoyed painting on fabric.  Actually I should be doing my own designing of this kind of thing but I loved the pattern so much I couldn't resist.

The original pattern was shaded with a crayon but the paint gives a much stronger colour.  I just chose the ones I liked.  Then I riffled through my fabric collection (always a pleasure)and picked out a green and a toastie pumpkin colour which had most of the other colours in their patterns.  I'm happily backstitching around the design now.  I'll have it finished tomorrow and ready to make into a cushion.  The weather outside is rather nice if not really hot and I should be out in the garden, but the pull of the threads is too strong.

Yesterday I finished off my giant cotton reel which is ready to send down to my friend for her birthday.  She is a keen gardener so I reckoned this was a nice holder for her twine.  Thanks again to Sandra for her Shape of the Month.

Talking about Shapes of the Month - June's is a semi-circle.  I loved Sandra's design for the watermelon, I was painting this very early yesterday morning as the house slumbered.  I was awake enough to note that I should make sure I put the pips the right way round but not awake enough to actually do it!

Hey ho!  So then I started on the hen.  Mine is a Strawberry Hen but it is waiting for its legs.  I haven't got a drill small enough so they will have to wait for their finishing touches until Saturday.

I think I'll have a little break from sewing (I've had to start wearing my thimble pad because the needle has done what comes naturally and I have a hole in my finger - really big ouch there).  We have pizza planned for tonight so I'll go and knead some dough and then I'll have to answer the siren call of the threads.  And my pips?  They'll just have to stay upside down.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A recipe for Karen

We had Tiffin and Lime Marscapone Cheesecake at our Quilting Bee last Monday and Karen asked for the recipe.  Apart from cake baking, which I consider a science as much as an art, I don't use recipes as such.  I have loads of recipe books which I love reading, but when it comes to making things though I quite often just chuck things into a bowl.  Sometimes they come out well and sometimes they don't.  The tiffin is made with a bar of chocolate, some crushed biscuits and whatever dried fruit or nuts are in the cupboard.  If it is a bit dry when I'm mixing it I put some melted butter in.  We had fig and hazelnuts in the bars above.  Maybe about 100g each of fruit and nuts to 200g of bikkies.

The cheesecake is a bit more ordered -

200g ginger biscuits, crushed
50g melted butter
Mix these together and press into a loose bottomed cake tin or a flan dish.  The smaller the dish the deeper the cheesecake.

2 x 250g tubs of marscapone
50g sugar (icing is best because it dissolves quickly - you may need to add more if the limes are large and juicy, but you have to wait for granulated to dissolve or you end up making it too sweet!)
juice and finely grated zest of 2 limes

Save a little of the grated rind for decoration then mix the marscapone, sugar, juice and zest together.  Taste and add more sugar if you like.  Spoon over the biscuit base, smooth out and chill until firm - maybe a couple of hours.  Decorate with remaining zest.  So simple and good for hot days when you don't want to put the cooker on.