Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gooseberry bumps

I won't pretend to be an expert gardener, and I have no idea about the right time to prune and cut back or whatever the terms are, but today I did a bit of improvised gardening anyway. I cut off all the lower branches of the little bush which resides on my balcony for the third year now. It's really quite exciting to see something so dry and unpromising as these prickly sticks crammed into a corner during the winter suddenly start showing tender little green ears once spring starts. Over the last couple of weeks I have watched the little ears growing and becoming fully fledged leaves, and today I noticed that little berries had started to form. Oh, the wonders of nature! I don't want it to grow into an unruly bush though, because there just isn't room for that, so a bit of cutting back was necessary - let's just hope I didn't kill it!
The bleeding heart has grown as well, in spite of this very cold spring, so I might risk it now: a trip to the gardening centre to stock up on plants to fill the balcony for the summer.
I find myself getting all excited just thinking about it - what will I find this year? Some hanging plants of some sort, some Verbena, trailing Pelargoniums and what else? Pansies of course, herbs, and since my Fuchsia didn't survive winter in the basement - somebody had decided to mix cement right next to it, and it had suffered a mafia death - concrete shoes... - I need to stock up on Fuchsias - there are so many great varieties to choose from, I can't wait!
The bleeding heart inspired this quilted postcard a few years back. Unfortunately I gave it away before I could take a proper picture of it. Maybe I'll make another one.

Just as I finished my spot of gardening today it started raining though - the perfect excuse to go inside and do some sewing. I have dug out my Mumbo Gumbo blocks again. The first 24 are finished and I'm working in the next set of 12 - there will be 48 in all, and the weather forecast for tomorrow tells me I'll make some progress...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Home for the duration

I never seem to learn: when those lovely sunny spring days arrive, it's off with the coat and into the sun. The wind has quite a sting to it though, and I invariably end up with a cold. So I've spent the last few days in bed or on the sofa, completely wiped out. Still, that's not always a bad thing - I've caught up with all the daytime soaps, I know all the advertising jingles by heart I've slept a lot and I've finished the latest Marian Keyes. I haven't had the energy to add a single stitch to anything - you know things are really bad when that happens! Things are looking up now though, I've made it to the computer, and I have located my cross-stitch sampler with the view to doing some work on it, so I must be getting better. If I don't stay up all night coughing, I might even be able to go to work in the morning...

Thanks for the lovely comments and mails about my Amy quilt! I finished it just in time to have something to snuggle up under when I got ill. Oh, and I finished my miniature house quilt the other day. This was a UFO for years, because I had intended it to be a housewarming present for a couple who ended up splitting up instead of buying the house of their dreams. That was so sad that I completely lost my motivation for finishing the quilt. They are both happy in their separate lives now, so maybe the split-up wasn't such a bad thing after all. I have decided to keep the quilt for myself, though.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Ginger Bliss. Mmm, savour that name! It should come as no secret that I like fabric, but I rarely have the kind of reaction I experienced when seeing Amy Butler's Ginger Bliss collection for the first time - it was love at first sight! I just knew I had to have some. It seemed I was rather late in discovering it, because Free Spirit Fabrics had already placed it among their "previous collections" since Amy Butler's Charm range was being launched. The Charm range didn't do it for me, it was that Ginger Bliss I craved. Thank goodness for the internet (Weeell, I wouldn't have discovered it at all if it hadn't been for the 'net...) - several quiltshops later I could sit back with my smoking credit card and wait for those first parcels to arrive in the mail. I only found a few here and a few there, so I ended up buying from five different shops and one doesn't just order one or two pieces of fabric from one shop now, does one? I ended up with yards and yards of the stuff - and it was lovely - pure bliss!
I played around with different ideas for a quilt, but decided to keep it simple to let the fabric shine on it's own. This is what I ended up with: a simple block pattern of squares and rectangles:
It was quite difficult to get a good photo of it from a distance, and this one seems a bit blurred, but I quite like it anyway - it reminds me of that special afternoon light in Italy. And it just occurs to me that there is a kind of Italian feel to the fabric as well - I remember when my grandparents returned from a holiday in Italy when I was five, they brought back lovely floral scarves for all the women in the family, and my gran had bought a new dress in a fabric not unlike that turquoise with the large flowers. They were so thrilled with their holiday and all the things they had seen and experienced, and yet so happy to be back with their family. Maybe some of the happiness of that day far away has something to do with my instant love for these fabrics?
Well it doesn't really matter, just another reason for me to ramble along so I can share as many pictures as I like of this quilt;-) The one above shows the fabric I used for the border on the other side, which is, in fact, not an Amy Butler, but Kaffe Fasset's Lotus Leaf in pastel.
Yes, I'll call it "the other side" of the quilt, and not the back, because after trying out different ideas I ended up with two sets of blocks - enough to make two quilts, really. However, I decided that one was enough, so I made it a reversible one instead. Here's the block I used on the other side, a kind of free cut nine-patch using the stack and slash-method: four pieces of fabric, four random cuts and then I moved the top fabric from the four side pieces to the bottom af the stack before piecing together the four blocks. I machine quilted it all in pink thread with loose florals and swirls, and after going on about it for so long I bet it comes as no surprise that I'm quite happy with the way it turned out ;-)
So now it's ready to be used on my sofa where I can curl up with my sewing in this basket. Quite stylish, n'est pas?