Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Last walk for now..

Time for another walk...  Admittedly this one actually happened almost 2 weeks ago, this is the one before the last one when I fell over.  It is my favourite though, I've saved the best for last.

Another little route map for you.   This time I managed a wee walk around instead of the usual "walk until I freak out about how far from the car I've gotten and turn round".

This is St Ninians Isle, a wee uninhabited island connected to mainland Shetland by a Tombolo or Ayre (long bank of sand or gravel), apparently the largest active tombolo in the U.K.  So wikipedia says anyway - or did you think I'm usually that knowledgeable?!

I say "uninhabited" island, but thats not entirely true....  it's positively louping with bunnies!  They are everywhere!  I'm surprised we managed to walk as far as we did without the ground collapsing under foot - and for once I'm not making reference to my weight, more the fact that everywhere you look you see rabbit holes...  there must be mile after mile of tunnels under the surface.

Yes, sadly we did get rather close to one bunny, though I must say not on purpose.  If you can get close to a wild bunny, you can be pretty sure it's either dead or dying.  Awffy sad, but thats nature eh.
Anyway, on a brighter note, this walk didn't just have wildlife.. it had a bit of History too...  (so much fun aren't I?)

St Ninian's Chapel where buried treasure was found by a schoolboy in the 1950's.  Where today in the 2010's we overheard wee schoolgirls discuss who had the best booze hidden away for the weekend!    Honestly, I don't know what was worse,  feeling oh so old or so hypocritical....

It really was a beautiful afternoon, and this time we made it back to the car *before* the rain!

What was even nicer though was to get home, have man put the fire on, me put the kettle on, and both put our feet up and have the best flavour cupcake in the world, ever.  The Hummingbird Bakery's Red Velvet Cupcake.  Hmmmm....


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Bloggers Quilt Festival

I really enjoyed last years Blogger's Quilt Festival, from an observers and voters point of view.  The brainchild of Amy from Amyscreativeside,  it's a wonderful chance to show off share your favourite quilt with everyone, and be up for a chance to get some awesome prizes too...
This year, I'm going to be brave and actually enter something...  I dont know why I find it so hard to like things that *I* make, but I generally do.  I say 'generally' because there is one quilt I will never tire of saying I love, and that is my first ever bee quilt.

 These are the fabulous and diverse blocks I received from my "do anything" instructions, and the weird mix of blue & black fabrics I sent out.
As much as I loved them, I'll be honest, I didnt have a clue what to do with them all to get them into one cohesive quilt top....  They sat in a bag for 6 months...

Spurred on by the thought of meeting all my bee in London, I became obsessed with having a finished quilt to show them.  As an extra push, I dipped into my piggy bank and booked my "quilt" in to get professionally quilted...

As the days ran out I tried all sorts of different layouts, thought about all sorts of sashings etc.  I started to panic.  It just seemed like two quilts - traditional blocks, and modern, free scrappy blocks.  Maybe it was a reflection on my state of panic, but two blocks in particular caught my eye - Ceri's block, and the random piece and slash/slash and piece section my mum did for me. I saw a lightening flash and a tornado and somehow they just whipped all the blocks up together!

5 days and nights of manic, scrappy piecing to build mums block up to 24" square, and individually enlarge each block up to 14" - in some cases making one block 14" x 16" and the one next to it 14" x 12", whatever was needed to link them - I got the top done in time.

It was wonderfully, professionally quilted by Christine Marriage, (who is so, so lovely!) in a "square dance" pattern, which I think really suits the quilt top as its so random and angular.  I used Moda's extra wide dottie grey to back it, and I bound it in the same kona black so that the edges disappear.  It measures approximately 81" x 95".  Its a bit of a beast.... my Blue Beeast....  and I love it.

Its too big for the "patio" and the sliver of sun we get....

Quite a few people may remember seeing this quilt in person, as I took it with me to the Fat Quarterly Retreat 2012 thinking my bee friends might like to see it, and it seemed to have a life of its own!

Lynne and Lauli helped with the modelling

This photo is a snapshot of what is possibly one of my warmest, snuggliest, happy memories, I still can hardly believe it; when one of my absolute favourite bloggers - Lynne of Lilys Quilts - genuinely really liked my quilt!

I can lie and stare at my quilt for ages, I always notice something new.  I love every single bit of it. But I do have some favourite bits...  Like how Susans Broken Window block sat so nicely with Fionas Paw Prints Postage Stamps block...  looks like Elliecat has been really naughty...
My man loves the Saltire, and the  "starwars bit"....

Thanks for letting me show it off again, I'm sorry, I just cant help myself, I bloody love it!  Thank you so much to all of Brit Bee for the awesome blocks that make my Blue Beeast such a special quilt  xxx

Blogger's Quilt Festival stats
Quilt - The Blue Beeast
Size - approx 81" x 95" 
Quilted by Longarm Chris
Special techniques used - just about everything!  There's applique, foundation paper piecing, english paper piecing, "wonky" piecing, traditional block patterns, free scrappy piecing...
Best Categories - Group/Bee quilt, Bed quilt

Thank you for reading, and please go and have a good nosey at all the amazing quilts being entered in The Blogger's Quilt Festival 2012  

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Tote-ally triangular

I have one more pretty walk to bore you with share with you , but that can wait another day for now as I've gone off walks for the moment.  Unfortunately, for me, walking and falling over go hand in hand, and the last attempt at the former ended up in a rather spectacular example of the latter.  And I dont like getting covered in sheep s**t.    Anyway, never mind all that outdoors stuff for now,  I've got some sewing done!  Phew....  

A teeeny bit late (I'm really not good at "on time") I've finally finished my Mouthy Stitches tote & fob.  I can't share who the recipient is, but let me tell you, my secret partner made a stunning tote for someone.  Really beautiful.  Really 'awwww crap what on earth is she going to think of whatever I send if that's the standard she's posting?!'....  Yeah, I got a little bit overwhelmed. 

This is what you saw last, the "alternative", the cut triangles.  

I got a handy elusive 16th bundle* of Field Study and was able to replace the few in my first line up that weren't actually AMH fabrics.  Maybe being a bit fussy, but I certainly felt much happier with it.  
* why dont more shops do 16th bundles each time they get a new line in?  They're superawesome handy and they kinda do make you want to have more... in bigger bits... 

I wasn't feeling quite so happy after my first attempt at sewing them all together!  So many wonky points, so many missing points, it looked awful.  
I unpicked back to rows and rejoined them.  Still bloody awful.  I unpicked back to triangles.  Unfortunately all my bias edges were now as frayed as my nerves and the points all missing, so I ended up re-cutting too.  Nightmare!  

To cut a long boring tale short, I got them together and quilted them onto batting with some really pretty threads mum found me in a charity shop.  When I went back to it the following day I was still feeling disheartened with it, but I pottered around and gathered the parts as it were.  I salvaged some of the previous triangles for a couple of strips.  Then I spotted something, some dark orange shot cotton (bargain find, not Oakshott) and it just seemed to work.  It cheered me right up.  Not entirely sure what my partner thinks of orange... but I think it really lifted things.  

I started to have fun after that!  In fact, I'm nervous to say it, but...  I rather like it!

Sorry bout the gratuitous photos, but, look at the pointy points!  There's bits where all 6 of them match up!  Please be excited with me, my man just thought I was nuts....
Ooh and a wee matching key fob too.... 

Fingers crossed my partner likes it - if not,  I'd have it back in a flash!!!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Outside again

As promised, I'm going to take you on another of my walk(ies).  If only I had a dog.  (Border Terrier please Santa).

This time we went to Papil Beach.

Again, I've marked the route out (for my own amusement more than anything really, I mean, its a
beach, we walked along it, you can prolly guess the route from the first overhead pic..)

Its a great beach to visit as it caters to those who like their sandy beaches, those who like their pebbly beaches, and even those who prefer sea cliffs and weird rocks...   I'm prolly in the "sandy" camp.  Unless its hot and sunny... then I'd much prefer pebbly beaches as there's less chance of encountering sunbathers - all that flesh, in public...  ewwww no thank you very much.  Anyway, not that much likelihood of that up here!

See those cliffs at the end there?  Thats as far as we got.  To be honest it was a pretty tough walk for me as the second half was over the hillside so I was dodging poo, tripping over rocks, wobbling on the edge of rabbit holes...  I just really need flat ground!

This was the coldest walk yet...  Absolutely freezing.  And the wind out on those rocks was fair blowy too...  Man did very well at not laughing (too much) when I had to resort to shredding a snotty tissue and stuffing it in my ears....  Sorry but, the pain!  Must remember to take a pocket full of cotton wool next walk.   And I did very well indeed fighting the urge to sleep.  No kidding, see those jaggy rocks in the bottom two photos?  Got that far and a massive wave of SLEEP hit me, big time.  I got all teary and pouty and woozy had to sit down, then really regretted sitting down as a fierce desperation to just curl up on the rocks and sleep took over.  No question at all, had man not been there I'd have done it.  

Anyway, he kept on talking to me and helped me up again and coaxed me into walking again, held onto my arm to make sure I stayed upright, and it eventually wore off.  The view back seemed even nicer but that might just have been knowing I could see where the car was....

Did you spot that dark grey bit of cloud?  Just the one wee bit in the first picture?  Well it worked its way to above our heads just in time for the final nasty uphill slog of the walk and we got soaked.   Bet you wish I'd taken a photo of that too....

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Fourth Quarter Finish Along (the Proposal...)

Despite my atrocious third quarter, I have come up with a good old long list for the fourth quarter of Ms Rhonda, Quilter in the Gap's Finish-Along 2012.
Okay, so, I cant do any worse than my zero success rate for last quarter can I?  Here goes!

1.  Mouthy stitches Tote.  Doing a mini triangles panel, a variation of Anna Maria Horner's patchwork prism pattern (using mostly her fabrics).  Must have it done and posted by the 23rd....  Ooops....

2. "specials" panels into another tote, for 'someone'.

mouthy bits

3.  Sirrius Spring Quilt needs basted, quilted and bound.

4.  I have a Limeade flavour of Katy Ginger Monkey's Sodapop Quilt half done - I'm sorry to say that was supposed to have been done with Awesome Allegory's Quilt Along but I failed miserably there too...   I want that finished!

5.  I have a stack of "parts" cut to make a stack of embroidery / paper piecing rolls.  It's from when I made mine, for the retreat...  Must get them tackled soon too!

embroidery roll

6.  I have an EPP Hexie cushion in  Curious Nature to finish.

http://instagram.com/p/NbHEeJv1AS/   (I thought I could get the photo using add photo from URL but it wouldnt work.)

7.  Supercute cushion to finish for besties wee bubs birthday.  (sorry, no pics cos its a surprise!!)

8.  And finally, cos I think that's prolly long enough, the last mini I promised for builder... in July... 2011...  *ashamed*....  this is as far as I got last time I put time in on it...  Got a lot of embroidery to do, and then bind.

Oh and also two bee's to keep up with, not to mention the fact that next month is MY bee month and I'm not entirely prepared yet.... And I have my own Stained II to finish but I'm not putting it on the list cos that seems to jinx it...  Oooh wonder how many Stained Quilts made the final quarter finish along list?!  Am I the only one left still to complete?!  (in my own quilt along.. lol - taking after Rhonda herself there....)

Wish me luck!

Scraps flying...

I have been busy with some sewing for a change!  It feels so good too.  I've really left things close to the wire with my mouthy stitches swap tote.  It was about time I got moving on something!  I'm finally feeling a bit more human since all the charm sorting, and the Mouthy Tote was top of (a very long) list.

I got all my scraps out, even my "special" box with all the ones I'm "saving".  Well....  What on earth am I "saving" for?!  The "specials" box just gets bigger and bigger....  

Lots of scraps flying about the cupboard (they got everywhere!) and some furious trimming, pressing, piecing, trimming, measuring....  Eventually (admittedly 2 or 3 days later) I came up with these panels.

Of course when I finally got them both done (a wonderful Downton Abbey marathon helped!) I had a flaky confidence wobble and thought, "what if they're actually rubbish?  what if the fabrics don't really go?  How did my purple become so pink?!"  and in my little wobble I photographed them badly, alongside my original plan.  To explain a wee bitty, I had an original plan, but had ditched it in favour of trying to do something different with my "specials"....

I know, I know, stoooooopid photo, makes the finished panels look like something I've ditched!!  Anyway...  It would appear that the Mouthy participants are all massive Anna Maria Horner fans...  so I guess I'm doing the AMH triangles pattern after all.  Oh well, good excuse to get a 12 x 16ths bundle of Field Study then eh?!

Another thing I got done was my Modern Stitches Bee October blocks for Emily.  Scrappy wonky stars.  I asked Emily if she'd like them mixed up a little, just so that when she pieces the top they aren't all in totally regular slots.  (She said yes.)  Just thought I should explain so you didn't think I was sending off half done, unfinished blocks!

Oh these blocks were a joy to make!  Fun, not too taxing...but lovely finish in an achievable amount of time for me too.  One day cutting all the bits, then one session doing the big block and two sessions  (evening with a tea break and nap!) to do the second blocky bits.

Talking of cups of tea and napping...  Look what we made tonight....   I cant show you as blogger wont let me add more pictures...  I'll leave that for the next post...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

there's an outside?

***bad language alert!  Not for children...***

So we had some unseasonably nice weather a week or two ago, and since man is still here I got him to take me out for some walks.  (anyone else hearing Barbara Woodhouse?)
I took photos for you, and rather than bore you with tales of all the walks on one post, I'm going to spread the fun over a few posts - arent you lucky!
Dunno if I need to point out to anyone, but I have a ruined hip, and I'm generally pretty useless at doing any kind of distance.  Or gradient.  Or surface that aint flat and solid...  So these were very short walks....  Just in case any of you were expecting some awesome hiking tours...  (wait till you see my photos from 2 laps round the park...)  (I'm not joking either...)

First walk was Quendale Beach.

It might help when you look at the photos to not read the text, and instead imagine temperatures in the balmy mid to late 20's, a soft tickling breeze, the lullaby of gently lapping waves...

Clearly no car park conveniently beachside, so I've marked in orange the route we took and how far I got.

This is the first view you get of the beach as you walk down thru the sheep fields. (Avoiding copious amounts of poo.)  

This is a closer view....  now is the time to imagine all sorts of nice temperatures etc...

Three (or was it four?  Cant remember) gates later you get down behind the dunes, where I am told it would be excellent for taking the bike for a run (I'm becoming a mine of useless bike information...*) and once you pop over the dunes, you come to this long, pale pale sandy beach.  Innit nice?

Unfortunately what you dont see is the cold, battering, hair whipping, ear aching wind, and the not even remotely close to warm temperatures...  However.
Isnt it shocking how the youth (stop laughing) of today deface things so hideously?

Dont worry, my man kept watch at all times, we wiped it out immediately after photos, and there was no one around to have seen it anyway...    (it was my little message to Camille as a thank you for the swap goodies I received.)

As the above picture might hint, I did a bit of paddling!  In the North Sea.  In October.   And it wasnt actually all that cold.  Obviously I'd have complained just a little had it been anything more than my tootsies that got wet... but for feet, not bad at all.  After 15 mins or so, I even managed to get the man whip his shoes & socks off!   Actually got him swearing a lot too....  Apparently our differences of opinions on temperatures extends to sea water also.  I'll finish on a photo of my podgy wee plates o' meat, just in case you doubted me... 

* bike information that is only "useless" to me, because I cant play too.

Friday, 12 October 2012

charming finale...

I'll try and make this the last time I go on about the charm swap, honest...
I did my first charm swap.  It was fun.  Actually it was great fun.  In fact the only thing that could possibly have made it more fun would have been if everyone had just given me their money for me to do all the choosing myself...  (if that would interest anyone...  seriously... call me)  but no, really, it was great fun.

I took loads of photos, these are the ones in focus my favourites.
Yes, I had a little helper.  A little helper that just HAD to help, whether I wanted it or not.  A little helper that probably took up far too much of my time shifting her...  That big centre picture is my favourite one of all, as that is after I had picked her up off the charms and shoo'ed her away about a dozen times...  Quite the persistant little fabric addict.  (Hmm what is it they say about pets and their owners?!)

I had thought these would have been arriving at their new homes today, but no.  Tomorrow hopefully!  

Would I do it all again?  Of course, I've learned all the tricks now... why let that go to waste?!

One thing I have learned, a tip for swap participants and or hosts, to do with posting.  
Posting, and price of posting, (in the United Kingdom) is all about the thickness.  

How's that for a difference in two different charms?!

To put it as simply as possible, and to make things as easy as possible for the host AND participant, I'd say the following is the safest guide.

On the left, small envelope, ziplock bag just over 5" square.  Expect to mail as small parcel.  Currently £2.70.
On the right, we have a plastic envelope and ziplock back to fit 5" by 10" minimum - that way the single charm pack can be split into two piles.  If this can be done, and the charms flattened out good (the zip lock bag helps!!) the parcel can then be thin enough (and still under A4) to be posted as a large letter, and hopefully much cheaper!  You can get a cardboard size checker thingy from the post office if you ask.  The kind lady explained to me that it is not a matter of "can I flatten my parcel and get it through the size slot".  She told me that the new sorting machines are apparently quite fussy.  If your parcel doesnt drop easily through the slot with NO HELP, its too big - the machine will jam.
Plastic envelopes are best by far.  Good air-tight ziplock bags are essential.  Posting isnt always particularly gentle.  Or weatherproof...

I should probably have found all this out before I ran a swap.  But, there you go, I've learned something new...

And finally... my #quiltphoto number 3.  "on the floor"

Dont know whether to call this "I hate hoovering"  or "R.I.P. supersoft fluffy deep pile carpet"  either way, I'd kill for a tiled / wooden floored sewing room!  (Or a cleaner.)