Sunday, 28 June 2015

Home Run for Durham Quilt

First of all welcome to Josie - thank you for your lovely comment on the Durham Quilt.  

This week has been another roller coaster with a weekend cut short by our Summer Fair yesterday.  This morning when I got up I wasn't quite sure where to start. I had to squeeze everything into one day.  I must say I was hanging my head thinking, 'I'll just go back to bed'.  When things overwhelm me I always think of my mother who used to say "Just start somewhere".  So I did.  I tidied my 'nest' which was full of threads and drawings and little snippets of fabric as well as unopened post and an empty glass. I'm such a slattern. For those of you who do not know what my nest is - it is a sofa surrounded by shelves and a little table. I stitch, crochet, read, doze and snack on inappropriate amounts of sugar here.  It is in the bay window and has great light all day.

By the time my little area was tidied and straightened I felt better and decided to break for breakfast.  This week I bought some sliced bread that disappeared into a million fragments when it was toasted. Yuk. 

I got some sour dough bread on the way home from the fair yesterday and made myself a hearty breakfast (I was too tired to eat last night, so pretty hungry this morning)
 Doesn't that look good.
Blueberry and banana smoothie, toast and butter, some lovely sharp strawberries and a large mug of coffee. Keep your sliced bread Mr Warburton.
After  vacuuming and dusting I had a little play with the fabrics for my wedding ring place mats/table runner.  It'll quilt down....I hope.  I put them away because this a future project.
It was my birthday during the week - Steph got me some lovely little doo dahs and geegaws to play with.  They'll have to wait a few weeks because every weekend until the end of July is spoken for, but I have a little project in mind.

The babies were round this morning, Ben stayed while Steph and John walked to the local car boot sale.  He sat patiently while I finished piecing the Dancing Squares quilt then we went out to feed the bunny and hens.  Later this morning I was surrounded by a cloud of poly cotton - 17m of it.  I was tasked with the job of making a backdrop for our end of year musical - Grease - it had to have a huge fabric loop sewn in the middle so that it can be hoisted up half way through the performance.  It's not that easy finding dead centre of 17m - I'll only know if it's right when they hang it up!
I was up and down from the sewing machine filling the washing machine, dishwasher, washing line, tumble dryer (when the line was full) and am pleased to report that all the washing is done and food is cooked for tonight and tomorrow. The ironing can wait, I wanted to get on with the Durham Quilt. (Love all my domestic machinery that allows me the time to spend on my sewing)

I laid the pieces out,
 Stitched and unpicked,
 Measured a bit more carefully.  I couldn't get my head round the technique at first,
but I think I've cracked it.  The quilt is going to be very muted and soft.  I was a bit unsure about making the squares individually because I think sometimes the 'quick method' is either not that quick or not a patch (!) on the traditional method. I'll reserve judgement but I'm cautiously optimistic.
I'll be doing a line of quilting a quarter inch from each joining strip.  It will look much neater when it has been steamed as well.  So now I'm going to have a glass of Wylam Growler - an artisan beer which John brought over and write some instructions for the Thursday night ladies, hopefully before the beer reaches my kneecaps.  Don't ask me why, but when I drink alcohol I know when I have had too much because my kneecaps tingle. Luckily for my pocket it only takes a small amount - less than a glass of wine.

It's a lovely evening so I might sit in the garden for a bit. I hope your week ahead is a good one. xxxx

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Colour therapy

I have a lot of difficulty defining my preferences for colour. Truth is, I suppose, that I don't have a favourite colour.  I am very attracted to white decor. My walls are all neutral and pale colours - I don't go for feature walls. I like the neutrals because I can make colour statements and change them at will with smaller things.  But when I make a quilt like this
my heart sings. I'll be sewing these together over the next week. 
I love my multicolour crochet blanket. I have enough to do another multi colour one this winter.  I think I'll do a waves blanket.  Colour makes you feel good inside.  My white bedroom is where I go to rest and be calm (not always at night!) but I really appreciate that lack of colour stimulus.  Sunshine and shadow. You need them both.

I called to see John this Father's Day - what did I find? Zombie parents. Ben won't sleep, Max is only two weeks old... Steph was sitting on the sofa unable to speak - she was rocking Max but I think she would have been rocking without him, John's head is hanging and he can hardly string a sentence together. Joys of parenthood. Once babies are old enough to understand I'm firmly of the mind that the parents are the boss when it comes to things like bedtime. Some little ones cause pain for a long time and some don't, but you need to go through that pain.

I've been making little traybakes this past week. I started with the lemon last Sunday, followed by Pecan caramel shortbread for the quilt class on Thursday - so many calories.....
and this afternoon White Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies.
I'm going to get a little notebook and write them all down because I forget where I have found them in these days of internet recipes or I forget how I alter them to suit me.

The last block for my Durham Quilt was stitched today whilst watching the Austrian Grand Prix.
Now they need to be trimmed to 18" and sewn together.  I'm still debating whether to do the sashing strips with the fabric used on the opposite sides or to match. I'll do a little audition.

The best colour therapy for the day was the red and blue that arrived like a whirlwind this afternoon

John decided to cook a pasta carbonara in my kitchen this afternoon.

I've just finished washing up.

I tasted the raspberry and white chocolate blondies just now.  Really too sweet and sticky - even for me. So now my colour therapy will consist of a golden, sort of lager colour. A bit of Pride and Prejudice and then I'll crawl up to my white peaceful, oh so peaceful, bedroom

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A little colour and a little calm

Friday nights are my special nights for sitting in from of the telly and nodding in and out of sleep. This week was no exception.  Sometimes when you just catch little snippets of things they just stick in your mind.  I was nodding off to Mary Berry and, in one of my waking moments saw her putting some chutney into a jar.  "just jollop it in" she said.  Something stirred in my memory and I spent most of Saturday trying to think who used to use that expression.  I spent most of the day sewing some more offset squares for my colourful quilt.  I've made 57.
Actually I think I only need 40 but I got a bit carried away.  All the time I was sewing the word was nudging at my memory.  I think it may have been an uncle of mine  "slap some jollop on" when we were in the sun, or my friend's mother " take some jollop to settle your tummy".  Anyway it's my word of the week - it just keeps popping up and it sounds so good!

I had some pieces of fabric left so I had a little play about:
The big pieces are not what I would call scraps but the little triangles started life as 2" squares.  Mmm something for a later date I think.

My friend sent me a picture of a quilt she has just finished for a friend's baby
That got me thinking about a similar design but with a dark background - that would look pretty good. I've written basic instructions on my new software (loving it - Serif Affinity). It's so easy to use.  Every time I get an idea I do a quick pattern - no instructions just the basics of shape and size. So many times I see something I like then promptly forget it.

For our class this week I made some peach melba cupcakes (well nectarine melba cupcakes). Yum. There was one left when I got home on Friday night and it was more delicious on the second day. The nectarines in the cake mix were all gooey.
I saw a recipe I wanted to try for the class but decided to do an experiment this morning because I think the ladies are very patient and try all my baking even though I haven't always made things before they get them. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.  No fear with this one. We call it Lemon Love cake at school - shortbread with lemon curd on the top.  But this was nothing like the school version - oh my it was lush!
The recipe is from Once upon a Chef - she calls them Luscious Lemon Bars. It's a shortbread which is baked then topped with the ingredients for a lemon tart, then returned to the oven.  The lemon mixture seeps into the shortbread but the bottom stays crisp.  They are lovely but the recipe only make nine 2" squares.  There are three left - I took some over to John's and Steph's daddy was there.  He's a good baker himself - makes gorgeous cake. Max woke up long enough to get a drink and then went back to sleep.  Ben was so full of energy - he loves Steph's daddy who throws him about and tickles him until he begs for mercy, then says "again"

Anyway I am behind on my quilt block this week so I better get on with it. There is only one more to go before we sew them up.
After my day of colour yesterday this is the calm I needed.  I cooked the component parts for our lunch this morning (we always have Sunday lunch at 7pm or thereabouts).  Will is tucking into his now and I've realised I'm quite hungry.  So I'll go and sort some cold chicken and maybe a few jersey royals with a jollop of mayonnaise.

I hope your week ahead is full of sunshine.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

And Max makes Four

Last Sunday Max looked like this
and now he looks like this,
and this - ahhh little cutie - and he's modelling his cotton blanket, what a considerate boy.
Ben helped the midwife carry him to the door.
Born 3rd June at 3.29am. Actually I think new born babies look pretty gruesome but I've been told I'm not allowed to say that.  And 'little' is a misnomer - he weighed 9lbs 7oz - which seems about half Steph's own body weight.  She is sore but recovering and was back home on Friday morning. Ben's just taking it in his stride. They are all shattered, what with the constant stream of visitors and wakeful nights.  The joys of family life eh? Anyway I had a long cuddle on Friday after work and this morning but I haven't seem him awake yet.

On the 'making' front, the Durham Quilt As You Go project is progressing very nicely.  This is last week's block
And this is for next week
The light changes every time I take the pictures - it's the same fabric, a soft green, like very pale moss.

Not long before we are ready to sew these together.  I must say last Thursday night I experienced a lovely moment, watching the ladies all sitting round the tables doing what groups of people who have common creative interests do, sharing their joys and sorrows -  there was a lot of laughter this week.

We ate palmiers - my 'go-to' emergency bake.  A sheet of puff pastry from the freezer (you can make them up and freeze before baking if using fresh puff pastry).  The pastry is sprinkled on both sides with granulated sugar and rolled into the classic palmier shape.
I have been looking round for inspiration to make a Wedding Ring Table Runner for a class we hope to hold in the summer.  I have so much fabric that I need never buy another inch but you just do, don't you?  Anyway I spied some really bright Batiks, a design which I don't use very often, although funnily enough I do have some....  I decided to use these, but in the meantime saw an awesome quilt whilst browsing through other blogs.  I really can't remember where it was, also it was in pastels I think.  The upshot is that I am going to make a quilt for "Quilts for Comfort'.  I got some fat quarters and have been frantically digging through my stash to find any more that are lurking.

This little pile
turned into these blocks in a very short time.
I love the offset centre square - its' a variation on the log cabin block.  The little squares dance all over the quilt.  This is going to be a longer quilt because I understand they are short of tall boy quilts. Hopefully this will fit the bill.

What I did find when I was searching through my stash was some lovely autumnal fabric which I bought a while ago.
This is going to be for the table runner, but as I love seasonal changes to my soft furnishings I am going to make a runner from the thirties fabrics I have for Spring/Summer version and possibly a Christmas runner too if I haven't sickened myself off!  It takes ages to cut them out, let alone sew them all together.  Having just cut out one arc I'm thinking it's not a good project for a course after all.
So I'm going to make sure my weekend chores are all done before I settle down with my stitching, a small glass of something refreshing and Lewis Hamilton. (I'm such a liar - I'll rush through the things I can't get away without doing and stitch/doodle as soon as I can).

Wishing you a good week ahead.