Saturday, August 28, 2010

Out and about

Thud! That's the sound of me falling back into real life. I've had a little holiday, and my head and my credit card are still reeling from the experience - which is just the way it should be, isn't it? My trip to London included the much talked about and still relatively new, Antrophologie store. I loved this piece of furniture (I don't know what to call it, "storage unit" is perhaps the best description?) Love those drawers of different sizes and colours. That's just one of many things to see, and the visit was well worth the effort. I don't think the storage unit was for sale, but I found plenty to spend my money on anyway. More about that later.
No visit to London is complete without a walk through Covent Garden. I must have passed these shops hundreds of times before, but this time the colour combinations grabbed my attention enough for me to snap a picture. Teal, purple, black and that brown/greyish colour (taupe?) of the brick wall - I must try to use that in a quilt one day...
My trip also included a trip to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. Sorry for just including this teaser for now. My computer has been giving me a lot of trouble since I returned - some kind of issue with the screen driver, apparently - and I haven't been able to upload all my pictures yet, but there will be more. I promise! There were so many wonderful things to see and hear and buy that I have lots to tell you. I just might have to get myself a laptop first if I can't get this d**n thing to cooperate...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Holiday Mode

A complete lack of routine lately as I settle into some blessed leisure time. I've been sleeping late, pottering about, visiting with friends, drinking wine, reading, watching a lot of movies and working some stitches now and again. It always seems to take some time to settle down and "learn" to relax, but I think I'm there now... Lest you think I'm a complete sloth, I'd better show some glimpses of the goings on in the wings. I'm working on my Workbook Wednesday quilts, experimenting with different edgings and adding embellishments. 
I mentioned reading - here are a coule of the books I have lined up: I've also been going through a lot of old quilt magazines up on that shelf, sorting through and discovering that there is actually very little worth keeping. Patterns I loved ten years ago seem hopelessly dated now, and most of the mags are on their way to new homes.
And surprise, surprise, there's also a bit of knitting going on! This is the Bitterroot shawl, pattern from Knitty.  I'm using the loveliest, soft, smooth Malabrigo Lace for this, a new acquaintance, but one I'll definitely use again - I love it! I actually started this around Christmas time, but it has been languishing in the bottom of my craft basket for a while - about time it resurfaced!
Then there's also this old friend, my Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl from A Gathering of Lace, knitted in Alpaca from Drops. I have been knitting on and off on this for quite a while now, but it is slowly, slowly getting there. The colour is a soft bluish grey, which is quite appropriate for frosty leaves, I think.

So there's a lot to do - when I feel like it - but I'm getting quite good at relaxing too ;-)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Gothic Tote

As this seems to be more of a Look-what-I-made-blog, then one about my everyday life, here's something I've made! I needed a big tote for my holiday and have had this pattern, Anna Maria Horner's Multi Tasker Tote, in wait for quite some time. I first spotted the bag on Anna Maria's blog before the pattern was published, and was lying in wait for it to becom available, and ordered it as soon as it was, so why has it taken me so long to actually make it? Well, I quickly realized that I didn't have any fabric I could use as I usually buy only half-yards, except for backing fabric for quilts. This pattern called for one yard of the outer fabric and two yards of  lining fabric. I have always loved Jane Sassaman's fabrics, and I knew that their large scale would be perfect for this bag. When I discovered that her Prairie Gothic line was available in home dec weight, even better for a sturdy bag.
Having tried to get to grips with the construction of the bag by just reading the pattern, I was a bit confused as to how it would all come together, and as I didn't refer to the pattern while ordering my fabric, I got it wrong and ordered two yards of the outside fabric and one yard of the lining fabric instead of the other way around, so when I finally got round to cutting it, I had to do some quick thinking. I ended up with cutting the pocket panels from the same fabric as the outer panels, and just using the lining fabric on the inside. You can only see some of it where it is folded over at the top on the sides of the bag. This doesn't make the pockets stand out as much as they were supposed to, but the bag is still nice enough I think. I'll just have to remember this the next time! 

The lining fabric is the same as on the outside but in a different colourway - much easier to find things inside, that way! Since I only had one yard of the lining fabric, I had to stich an extention to one of the pieces, so the pattern  of the fabric doesn't quite add up inside, but who's to know? Only you ;-)

To add a bit of extra colour, I used some purple Flora and Fauna with bees on the underside of the straps, keeping to the theme of bugs from the other fabrics.

Having mentioned that I was a bit confused by the pattern initially, I must add that once I started cutting and sewing, the instructions were very clear, everything went together very well, and I had no problems in actually making it. Some things you just have to see and do in order to understand. So I will definitely make this one again. It's a big and roomy bag with wide comfortable straps, four outside pockets and one inside (which I divided in two - making a separate compartment for my cell phone) - perfect for my holiday shopping jaunts I should think!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The blue quilt

Another finish. Actually this quilt has been finished for a while, but it is such a long quilt that I have been struggling to find a way to photograph it indoors and yet show the whole thing.
The idea for this quilt began while I was sorting through my stash last winter and realized that I had an awful lot of blue fabric that never seems to go with anything. I had amassed a lot of fabric with planets, stars and clouds while planning the Space Quilt and the Kite Quilt for two of my nephews, but as they never were used there, they just stayed on in my stash. When visiting my sister on a cold winter's day and seing my 13 3/4 nephew trying to cuddle up under a tiny knitted afghan, I realized that he has outgrown the quilt I gave him some years ago. I totally get that cats, bats and toads might be a bit uncool when you're almost 14 and your friends come around! So, the idea of a new quilt was planted. The colours of his favourite sports team are blue and orange, so my blues could be put to good use. I purchased a length of orange polar fleece (I asked for two meters, but it turned out to be 2,2 meters) and used that as a size guide. I pieced the smaller scraps randomly together into blocks of different sizes, cut some of them up and kept some, adding strips of different widths, and whole lengths of fabric in some instances I also dipped into my favourite blue fabrics to bring it all together. It was all very haphazard, but I enjoyed the process. Eventually I ended up with ten full-length strips and stitched them together.
The quilting is very simple  - just some horisontal lines of variegated red/orange thread to hold it all together. And there you go: I've got room for more blue fabric in my stash and my nephew will have something to keep him warm through next winter. A win, win situation, wouldn't you say?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hang ups

I was trying out my new hanging system to photograph this quilt. It's needs a bit of improvement, but at least I know where I'm going with this. I got a friend of mine to buy a curtain wire from IKEA. It is similar to a photo wire, which is what I really wanted. The curtain wire is meant to be stretched between opposing walls, and should be completely taut. Since I needed a shorter piece of wire to stretch above a sliding door, however, I couldn't get the wire taut enough, because the wall fastening bits had to be bent at a 90 degree angle. A photo wire has different wall fastenings which allows for tautening even if it is stretched accross a shorter stretch of wall, so I'll have to look for one of those. 
The wire is placed at the top of the wall and therefore rather discreet so it can hang there permanently. There are little clips to use for attatching the quilt and let it hang straight down. If I push the sofa away, I get enough space to take a picture of the whole quilt. As you can see, it sags a bit, but with the right wall fastenings I think I can make this work and make it easier to photograph quilts in winter (or when it's raining during the summer, which seems tobe most of the time...), when I have to do it indoors.