Saturday, October 31, 2009


It must be the season, the chill in the air and the darkening evenings, but I'm getting the urge to do some hand stitching again. I have been thinking along the lines of doing some hand quilting and was very inspired by Jan's post yesterday. But a bit of cross stitch wouldn't be so bad either, and looking through my charts, I realize that I have several fun ones from Twisted Threads, two of whi(t)ch seem to fit right in with the season. I have several witchy pieces in my collection already, and these would fit right in. I just love the quirky humour here. I have the chart for the first one in my stash, but when I was looking up the page to link to these, I came across the pumpkin one, which made me laugh out loud. I might have to order that one too!

The first witch is saying: "I made my husband a pumpkin pie" The other one replies: "I made mine a toad".

Friday, October 30, 2009


It was my birthday last week and I took the opportunity to gather friends and family for a small party. Any party, however small, takes a bit of planning, shopping and work, of course and I tend to get myself a bit worked up about all the things that "ought to be" in place before people arrive. I ought to dust and hoover, the sink ought to be empty and shiny (creating the illusion that all the food didn't take any work at all, but just appeared by magic) and the windows should be clean and... You get the picture. Sometimes it just gets too overwhelming, and all the fun seems to drain straight out of the event.
It might just be that I'm getting older and wiser, but in the midst of all my preparations it suddenly dawned on me that I was the one setting the standard for how things were supposed to be, and that really there was no need to strive for perfection. After all, the guests were all close friends and family members who choose to come because they want to be with me, not to check on the cleanness of my floors.

I did get some dust bunnies out of the way, but there were unwashed dishes in the sink, and I allowed my guests to help me setting the table. It all made for a lovely, casual gathering where the hostess was relaxed and had time to chat with everybody - and you know what? I don't think anyone noticed the state of my window panes! As we were all gathered in my living room I realized that I have so much to be grateful for - lifelong friends, newer friends and family who all get along and care enough to take time out of their busy lives to give me a wonderful birthday! I got lots of nice presents too, and one of the best was this ladder that was made especially for me. I happened to mention some weeks ago that I was looking for an old ladder to use in my living room to hang quilts from. And it turned out that they had all been searching high and low for old ladders, but because none were to be found, an old friend had spent the evening before my party making this! A certain way to win a special place in my heart - a handmade gift is really the best gift of all, isn't it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On a roll

I was saying in a comment over at Jan's the other day that I hadn't bought any Jelly Rolls yet. But it seems that her post about Moda's new Authentic range got me on a roll ;-) I just couldn't resist Authentic, and went straight online to order some yardage of the most interesting prints, and a Jelly Roll too. I could see several of these fabrics as accents in quilts and other projects, and smaller pieces would be just right for these. A bit of a "stroll" through some web shops later I had come across this roll from Westminster - strictly not a Jelly Roll, (as that is a registered trademark, I believe), but lovely just the same. So, of course I "had to" get some...

I have been thinking of getting some Kona cotton solids too, but there were so many colours I wanted, and I didn't really want that much of each, so getting a roll seemed like a good idea. The only problem with these rolls is that they are so pretty, that it is hard to convince oneself to unroll them.

Maybe just as well that the Authentic strips came flat-packed in a zip-lock bag. I was slightly disappointed at first, but realized that probably was so that they could be mailed in a small envelope and get here quicker, and anyway, the roll already being opened makes it easier to start using the fabric.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another little something

I seem to be dabbling away at lots of little somethings these days. But at least I'm doing something. I showed the beginning of this and told the story behind it here. But I knew that it wasn't finished. It needed something, but I didn't know quite what. Some kind of caption, I thought, and finally managed to decide that it would be "Say cheese!" Yet another curious thing adults demand, without explaining why. - I seem to have gone through my childhood completely baffled by all sorts of strange, unexplained adult behaviour, which is probably why I tend to go at great lengths to explain things to the children in my life. My cousin has a fond memory of a conversation I had with his first-born when she was about one year old, and I tried to explain to her what it meant when her parents said they were going skiing on their winter holidays. My explanation was apparently complete down to the description of the wooden sticks that they would fasten on to their feet and that white thing that covers the ground and that we call "s-n-o-w". The sweet little girl was sitting on my lap with a deep frown of concentration as if she were really trying to understand it all. Well, I'm still the one she comes to fourteen years later when she wants things explained to her, so I must have been doing something right!
Anyway, back to the subject. I stitched the letters on black felt using my sewing machine, and cut them into tiles which I stitched to the background with a running stitch. It just didn't look right. The tiles were too big and overwhelming next to the sketch. I tried adding some black blanket stitch around the edge to counterbalance it, but no, that wasn't enough. I added some shisha mirrors in the top left corner with black perle cotton, thinking that you would occasionally catch flashes of light in the mirrors like the one's you get thrown in your face in a photo booth. I liked the effect, but the black tiles were still too big. I contemplated removing them and making new ones, but having used a sturdy perle cotton to attach them, I realized that there would be holes in the background fabric, so that was not a good idea. Eventually I came up with adding some decorative stitches in green to blur the edges of the black a bit.

It took a while, but the time I used was really what I needed for it to evolve into what it wanted to be.
By the way - I wanted the blanket stitch around the edge to be a bit uneven and random looking. I didn't realize how hard that was! My hand and needle only wanted to make even stitches, and I had to pull them out and start again several times before I got the hang of it!
Now off for another little project: hosing down the balcony to try to get rid of the mossy patches a mostly rainy summer has left- how exciting...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A little something

I vaguely remembered having seen a tutorial for a moleskin pencil pocket a while ago. After a bit of googling I managed to find it again here. Thank you Krommama. I made my version with a whole piece of fabric for the pocket, and attached some selvages and a scrap with the text "for colour" on it. That seemed fitting for this book, especially as there turned out to be room for three watercolour pencils in the pocket next to the drawing pen. So there you have it. A few minutes by the sewing machine and a handy accessory was made. Very satisfying.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

All done!

No quilt is considered all done to me until it has been photographed and posted online, so although I finished stitching the binding on my zigzag quilt last weekend, it wasn't until the weather cleared enough today so I could snap a few pictures for a bit of show-and -tell that I really felt I was at the end of this labour of love. It seems to have taken me forever to stitch. After I chose the fabrics and tried to create a pleasing arrangement where the colours from one would run gradually into another, I needed a while to ho and hum about it, before I had to make a couple of them go. That meant that the quilt ended up narrower than I wanted, so I had to find some border fabric. I found that black worked well, if it had some tan or brown in it, making it a bit warmer. But wouldn't you know it - years ago when I was trying to find pure black fabric, the only ones I could find had lots of tan or brown in them, but this year all the blacks seem to have grey in them, making them too harsh for this project. Eventually I came across a piece in a bargain bin which was just right, though, and the top was finished. Then, wouldn't you know it, the backing fabric I had in mind was too small... I was considering this issue, when my gaze fell upon the discarded triangles from the end of the zig zag strips, and started playing around with them. Before you knew it they became blocks, and there I had my solution: I would include some borders and the discarded fabrics that were meant for the front and make an interesting backing as well. The rest should be easy... Well, it wasn't too complicated, but I decided I would quilt it in lines following the zig zag pattern. And being such a clever clogs, I decided that it was much quicker to do this by machine than quilting by hand. It didn't occur to me that I would have a plus size quilt on my hands where I needed to stop every four inches and turn the whole thing 90 degrees. Well, I can tell you - it was rather time consuming... After a while I got bored, so towards one side I started making the lines gradually less angled, ending with wavy lines on the black border. On the other side, I let my quilting lines shoot out towards the edge to create smaller areas to be filled in with stitching. It ended up quite densely quilted, but it has retained its soft drapey feel, and at 66 x 95" it has become a lovely quilt to snuggle under on a chilly autumn evening. And when I toss it aside, there's that interesting backing to look at as well. Now it's time for a little rest while I consider what my next project will be.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

And here it is

So I finished this little quilt. This was my first attempt using the X-block ruler. Not very tricky, but there's a lot of waste, as you make 9-patches first and cut away a skinny triangle on each side. I have a bigger version in mind in the same colours, and I'm already cutting strips and squares for that one - I might as well since I had already started. That one is going to have a few extra borders, making it a larger quilt (40 x 40" or so) but this one, at 19 x 22" (I made the borders slightly wider than planned) is just what that extra spot on the wall needed, once I started rearranging my pictures. I need to adjust it a bit so it hangs straight before you see a picture of the whole wall.

We've hit a cold spell here lately, and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to spend time actually doing anything other than snuggling under a quilt in the evenings. I always seem to go through a bit of an adjustment period (considering hibernation...) when we enter the cold season, before I'm back on track sewing and crafting again. I'll just have to let the mood run it's course for a few days, I suppose and spend some time with a good book instead. There's a quilt guild meeting coming up in a few days, and all the new inspiration and companionship should sort me out ...