Monday, January 29, 2007

Almost snowed in

I'm back from our quilter's retreat. We had a wonderful time at a rented house out in the country. The drive there was great - a lot of snow on the ground, but the sun was shining. Once we got there though, it started snowing... This is the view from the front door on Sunday morning. And then it snowed some more. The drive back home wasn't that great! Whatever happened to that greenhouse effect?
Enough about the weather, As I said we had a great time. Everybody just brought along projects we were working on and we all worked at our own speed, chatting and enjoying ourselves. No pressure, no deadlines, just a lot of fun. I got a lot of work done on my scrap quilt, so I'm nearly halfway there. I'm still not sure about it, but the blocks met with some "wows" from the others, so I might be on to something... Pictures later! We have already planned a new trip in March, so if I don't finish the blocks anytime soon, there's always a chance I might later...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Will this work in a quilt?

When I first started out as a quilter, I bought "scrap bags" to start building my stash, because there wasn't that much fabric available in the local shops, and I knew I needed some kind of palette to experiment with. I did use many of those early fabrics, but some I have never cut into - the shade has never fit in anywhere, they are too floral, too theme related (teacups, nautical flags etc) or whatever. I love blue, but it is not always an easy colour to work with, so more often than not, when blue is called for in a quilt I find nothing in my stash that I can use, and end up buying new fabric. While I have some turnover in most of the other colours, the blue crates were so full I'd need a shoehorn to fit any more in...
I have long been thinking about making a blue scrap quilt, and now seems to be the perfect time: a whole bunch of us are going on a quilter's retreat next weekend and I need a project. Mindless cutting and stitching while chatting away into the small hours and I could end up with a new lap quilt - that's the general idea, anyway. So I have pulled out all the blue fabric I know I'll never use in another project, added a few greens and some yellow and hot pink for interest and the result is this heap on the floor. Far too many for that quilt, I know, but I'll use as much of them as I can, and see if I can find new homes for the rest. The remaining fabric in the blue crate can breathe more easily and I actually have room to add some more...
What I have in mind is a scrappy log cabin variation from this pattern by Pie in the Sky. With lots of different widths of strips and a pick-strips-as-you-go attitude I just might make it work... Or Not.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Originally uploaded by crafty mathea.

I was so eager to start using my new Clapotis that I almost forgot to show and tell :-) This is my second one, the first was knitted from a much thinner yarn and turned out quite short and skinny, so that's nothing to write home about - or blog about for that matter. I found the pattern at Knitty of course, but was not familiar with the yarn and I just couldn't seem to find anything similair in my neighbourhood. I loved the pattern and drape of the scarf though, so I knew right away that I wanted to make a new one. I ordered Lion & Lamb online, the colourway is Lakeview and I just love it! It is made from 50 % wool and 50 % silk and has a really luxurious feel to it. It is a bit brighter in real life. The second picture does it more justice I think - I'm still getting used to my new camera, and the heavy rain clouds all the time makes it difficult to take pictures (at least I hope that's the reason, not just the **** photographer!)

It turned out that I needed more than the three skeins originally called for in the pattern it has later been amended). When I discovered that I needed more, that colourway was sold out, so I had to do some detective work to find another online shop which carried the yarn, but eventually I did, and was able to finish the thing. So here it is, and I'm ready to face the world in it. If only it would stop raining...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Time to let go

It's really time to let go of Christmas now! All the decorations went back in their boxes up in the attic a week ago, but I have kept this picture up until today. Now it will be wrapped in a sheet and tucked away until December. I stitched this picture eight years ago - I spent a few years stitching it... so it must be at least ten years since I bought the chart - and it is such a treat to take it out and put it on the wall in the beginning of December each year. It's like the official opening of the Holiday season here, when this old friend comes out of hiding. I fell in love with it at a Needlecraft fair in London and just had to buy the pattern from Lavender and Lace. It was a real challenge to stitch with lots of different shades of red, gold thread and beads. I splurged on a really ornate frame - not the kind of thing I usually go for, but this picture deserved someting extra, and for Christmas it is sort of all right even if it is a bit over the top. I have been trying to get some close-ups lately, but the light just isn't good enough to get a good shot.
Well, we are way into the new year and I'll have a quick look back at 2006 and what I accomplished. The blog has really helped me keep track of all the things I have made, and I have had a look through the previous twelve months and picked a picture for each month and created this little sampler of my work. Not too bad I think! One of he real accomplishements for me was finishing the project I had going over several years of making bed quilts for all my nieces and nephews. Upon finishing the kite quilt for the youngest in August I felt free to do whatever I like in future.
Of course I keep adding new stuff to my "to do"-list, so it is as long as ever - lots of fun waiting in the wings! There is that Amy Butler quilt - I have finally decided on the borders, so that looks promising.
The "Café de Paris"-top I finished in June is still waiting to be quilted. I put it aside because I couldn't decide on how to quilt it, but why keep worrying about that? Better finished than perfect, I think!
Then there is that tree skirt that didn't get finished before Christmas. I have promised myself that I wil finish it now before I put it away, but of course something else popped up, like it does... This time it was the arrival of a dear friend's first-born, and such a grand occasion calls for a quilt, of course, so I'm in the midst of a new project. But I will go back to the tree skirt when it is finished - I have promised myself that I will!
And all the other projects I have planned? I'll do them one step at the time and remind myself that the important thing is to keep having fun!

Monday, January 01, 2007

New year, new habits

Let me begin by saying that I don't really believe in New Year Resolutions - not the ones about diets, exercise, giving up smoking or whatever (not that I am a smoker, but I have enough of other vices...). Why ruin the already bleak months of January and February by making life even tougher? Let's talk about that in March or April when the promise of Spring and longer days make such major changes easier. But resolutions to make this a colourful and creative period, however - now we're talking!
I am going to begin by looking back on this past year - my first full year of blogging and congratulate myself on what I have accomplished so far. The only resolution I have is to try to be a little bit tidier ;-) and this basket is one of the objects that I hope will help me with that. Behold my new craft basket! I used some of my scraps from the Amy Butler-quilt (still in progress...) to make a matching basket liner complete with pockets and all. So how is this going to help? Well, I tend to walk between my sewing area in the bedroom where my sewing machine, cutting board and my considerable stash is, to my comfortable sofa with my half-finished projects to do my pinning and hand sewing or whatever in front of the TV. And of course there is always some knitting, some sketches and notes about new projects and things like that, making my living room look rather messy.

So I have made this basket to contain all that mess which I move from room to room. It's pretty enough to sit on the sofa even when company arrives. (And once my quilt is finished it will even match!) It shows that I am in the middle of some creative process and that's OK, that's part of who I am, but it helps keeping the room reasonably tidy, avoiding the mad scramble to pick things up when the doorbell rings. And instead of the torn paper pieces and pink post-its scattered around I have bought a moleskin notebook to contain my ideas, and I'll really make an effort to be more tidy so that the mess doesn't impede on my creativity. (Big words ;-))Look, there is a New Year's Resolution after all! Weeeell, at least it will be a little practical help in getting there, but I won't expect miracles over night... Tomorrow I'll clear the mess on my cutting table so I can get started on a new project - a new arrival at the end of the year will need a little something to keep his cot warm - oh what fun, a new quilt! But first it's off to my Mother's for dinner.