Wednesday, 30 October 2013

First finish of 4th quarter!

In amoungst the massive amount of sleeping I'm doing - and its a lot, even for me - I have managed to get the last 3 blocks made for the quilt top I had to finish.  Yay!  A finish!  I know, its not quilted or backed, but the shop only wanted it to be a top so that customers could nosey at the back...  eek!  Not sure I like that thought, but hey ho.

The last three blocks (middle left, bottom left and bottom right) were blocks made with my sizzix.  I rather like them!  Mind you, that drunkards path block was a pain in the ass to make.  The sizzix drunkard paths finish at 4" and I needed 3" so there was a fair bit of trimming needed to make a 12" block.  Its supposed to look like a star, but I'm not convinced...

Well, I've been stabbed like a pin cushion all morning and they still didnt get enough blood, but fortunately they didnt want to resort to the wrist cutting this time.  Bleugh...  Things I'm doing for beany....  I'm off to bed!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Random Thursday!

I'm having a go a joining in with the Random-ers at Live a Colourful Life this week!

I dont like Mango. 
I've spent years, decades avoiding the stuff when need be. 

For some reason, I picked one up with my shop the other day. 
I just ate it.  

I also got some Persimon fruits. Very tasty! I wonder what else I should try.... (no mum, not doing courgettes. *shudders*)

Also got some quilting advice from my granny, who doesnt quilt, last night.  Apparently someone told her that Denim needles are the best sewing machine needles for quilting!  Anyone heard that before?  I've got some kicking around somewhere so as soon as I next sew I'll try it.

I got myself a little "cheer up misery guts", totally pointless pressie.  (I'm so good to myself!)

A beautiful box of 100 postcards, each showing a cover of a 1950's comic book.  Freakin AWESOME.   Random enough?!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Who likes a bigshot?

A while ago mum and I went halves's on a sizzix big shot die cutter.  I must have entered a few hundred competitions to win an Accuquilt Go cutter, but never had any luck.  I was never going to get one without winning it either...  Enter the Sizzix!

Its a great price, and if you search on line there are lots of discounts and offers to be had too.  We got ours for about £50.
To be honest, the disappointing truth is that its sat untouched under the bed for months - I just didn't really know what to do with it!

Tumbler Cushion

When we first got it, I used the tumbler die to make a cushion.  I loved it, really.  Great shape, lovely pattern, they piece together beautifully.  But a 20" cushion took practically a whole charm pack, so the thought of doing a quilt .....  blimey.  How many charm packs would that take?!  I was a bit daunted.

I've decided I need to learn how to use it better.  I don't mean how to operate it; that is super simple.  It requires no effort at all really, and it feels good and strong and solid too.  No, "operating" it is very easy.  What I need to master, is planning and forethought.  I need to work out better what I can make with it, plan better what I need to use it.  I've been reading the sizzix blog and webpage, which I'm pleased to say is actually quite helpful.  I think it would have been more helpful had I read it before I purchased dies!

Dies are probably the most costly part of most cutter sets.  Again, Sizzix are cheaper than the other and special offers and discounts are always available somewhere on line, every bit helps!  What dies would I recommend tho?  Well, so far...  I think the Drunkards Path dies are a good buy, I mean, cutting those by hand is a nightmare, and its no easier with a rotary cutter either.  For the same reasons, the circle dies and hexagon dies are pretty good.

I'm finding that if you just want to go through your scraps, then any dies are great.  But if you have a specific quilt in mind, its a little annoying to still have to cut your fabric into small manageable pieces to run through the sizzix.  At best it cuts 4 layers of fabric, so you don't want to have any excess hanging over the side of the die as it will then count towards the layer thickness.  Also, I would ask sizzix to please, please, please write on the die the ideal size of fabric to place over the die for least wastage.  That would be so handy.  Not hard to do surely?!

I've been chopping away with my 2.5" square die, going through my scrap stash.  This one just hasn't worked properly since I got it, its sucking the fabric into the die at the corners and each cut is requiring a good snipping with scissors to get all the uncut threads.  Most annoying...  But it has just been this die, the others have been fine.

However.  To sit with your scrap pile and a sizzix is great fun, and the cut shapes will be so much handier for all sorts.

One die I'm awffy pleased with is the rather different Trapezoid.

A nice big pile of these makes something like this.

Not entirely decided what I'm doing with this yet, watch this space!
Having just read the sizzix blog again, I could also combine this die with the triangles die

A trapezoid either side of one of these triangles will give me quick cut Geese!  Looking forward to trying that one day.

All in all, I have to say I'm chuffed to bits with the sizzix.  I just need to think more about what I do with it!  I'm not seeing me make whole quilts, but I am seeing it being wonderful for smaller projects, and especially awesome for speedy fancy ass looking borders!
All I would ask is that sizzix make more of the dies with windows as opposed to solid.

The windows make it sooooo much easier to gauge the size of fabric you need and get it in the right place.  Essential if you want to fussy cut too.

To summarise:  Fun product.  Affordable if you shop around.  Good quality, well made, easy to use.  Just think carefully about what you want to do with it before you start buying dies or you'll end up spending twice the cost of the machine.... it is fun, and so easy to get carried away!

Sunday, 20 October 2013


I seem to be doing an unbelievable amount of napping at the moment.  I have an insatiable appetite for sleep right now.  (food too for that matter..)  Beany has been awffy quiet of late so I'm assuming he/she is also a bit knackered!    I probably wouldn't need as much if I were only capable of *staying* asleep long enough to get well rested.  Ah how good that would be.  Its been so very long, I honestly have no memory of how that felt.
My dreams are pretty vivid at the moment too, and with their general horror show nature that's not really helping much either.  With that, and the rain, and the dark, and the no man around... well, I'm sure you'll forgive me if I'm a little fed up.

So, all of this leads me to the usual "too tired to sew" plea.  I managed 40 minutes yesterday, and I got some of a block done for the Simply Colour sampler I'm late with.  No finishes to show yet I'm afraid.   Today's big effort went into cleaning the kitchen, and making a rather awesome big dish of Mac & Cheese.  I had a bit of Gruyere in the fridge needing used, and its addition made the Mac extra cheesy and mouthwateringly stringy and gooey.  Little bit chuffed with that effort!

Just so as this isn't a picture less post, here is an example of the wonderful work mum has been up to.  Apologies to Instagrammers who might have seen this before, but hey, its freakin amazing ;-)

The coolest ever baby bouncer...

I have a lovely plan for tomorrow, to get up and hopefully get comfy (I'll settle for just being able to sit upright...) at the sewing machine with a nice audiobook (Francis Durbridge, vintage detective stories), a rice puddin in the oven, and a pot of tea at my side.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

crazy cat lady.

This is Elwood.  Or Miss Elliecat as she's more commonly known.  She's a twelve year old housecat, a former rescue kitten we got from the Cats Protection League.  She didnt get on with our other cat, her nemesis, Harvey.  We had no idea just how much they hated each other until I moved in with my man, took her with me, and she transformed overnight from a timid, grumpy wee hider that hardly left my bedroom, to a daft, friendly, relaxed, supercute wee companion.

She loves to get brushed.  She "talks" to everyone, and it can go on for ages if she gets a response!  She loves to get wet catfood pouches - she licks the jelly off the meat until the meat is dry.  Then the meat just gets chucked across the floor...  She just wants the jelly.  She LOVES to get the last wee bit of cereal and milk from the bowl at breakfast.  Especially if its been weetabix.  Her favourite things in the world (aside from me) are cardboard boxes, and catnip.

She scratches stuff - not just her scratching post, but shelves, doors, and drawers.  She chews plants, eats soil, and spews it up somewhere later.  Mostly on carpet...  She "ruins" her litter the second you clean it.  She farts.  She snores.  She likes to roll about on the stairs, so they never look hoovered cos they've always got clumps of cat hair on them.

But she's my wee shadow.  I'm her crazy cat lady.

Since I became pregnant, she has amazed me with her loyalty, caring and concern for me.  She's always liked to follow me and check up on me, but this is different.

At the beginning of my pregnancy when I was sick 4 or more times a day, she quite literally worried herself ill.  She's better now, but she still looks wide eyed and worried when I puke.  She tends to leave the room, but I always find her sitting right outside the door waiting for me.
As my hip is getting worse with the extra baby weight I tend to squeal or yell when it gets stuck and I get shooting pains - if she isnt around as it happens, you can count on her appearing by my side in seconds.
I have to get up at least 4 times a night to go pee now.  She comes with me every time.  I swear its like she's making sure I'm okay on the stairs, she watches and follows from a safe distance, she never gets under my feet like she does with my man!
And there's the cuddles.  Every night she sleeps beside me, with either her head, her paw, or both in my hand.  And every time I fall asleep during the day, I wake up and she's there, with me.

Cats.  You dont get crazy dog ladies...  Love 'em or hate 'em, cats seem to bring out devotion in their owners, me included.  I think though, if you spent one day with us, you'd understand in this case!  So this post may just be me being pregnant and hormonal and soppy.  But I just wanted to say, for the record, that I have the most amazing cat in the world, and I am so thankful she's mine.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Comfort soup

Its cold.  Its dark.  My man has gone back to sea.  I'm too tired to spend too much time cooking.  I'm hungry all the time!  I've made myself some super easy to make comforting soup, so I thought I'd share it with you too.

1 Butternut Squash
2 Large Carrots
8 Small onions (I had a bag of fat pickling onions I never got round to pickling. You could use 1                             regular onion chopped into wedges)
2 heaped teaspoons Cumin seeds
1 teaspoon thyme (if you've got fresh that would probably be even nicer)
olive oil
1 vegetable stock cube
1 medium heat red chilli
salt & pepper
kettle of boiling water

Peel the squash, carrots and onions.  Chop all to similar size and put in a bowl with a glug of olive oil.  The hardest bit is over!  Mix so that everything is nicely coated.  Transfer the veg to a large roasting tin leaving behind the excess oil, and sprinkle over the cumin and thyme.  Roast at 200 degrees C for about 40 mins or so, until everything is soft and there are a couple of nice caramelized edges.
I did the roasting at the bottom of the oven whilst I was cooking something else the night before!  Saves on the leccy bill....
Boil your kettle full of water.  Put the roasted veg into a pan (if you are using a blending wand, or put it in the blender if not!) and add the stock cube, and the chilli roughly chopped.
Add in 2 cups of boiling water and start blending.  Keep adding boiling water until your soup is as thick as you want it.   (I used about a litre and got 3 generous servings of creamy soup).  Season with salt and pepper to your own taste.  Remember, if your stock was salty you wont need much salt, and if your chilli was a hot one you wont want too much pepper!  Simmer for 5 mins or so until piping hot.

If I wasnt feeling so lazy I might have added a spoonful of natural yoghurt to serve.  Or a squeeze of orange or lemon juice would have been nice.  Instead, I just ate it with some bread and cheese.  Still yummy!

Friday, 11 October 2013

4th Quarter Proposal Finish Along

This quarter.  Blimey I'm scared of this quarter.  I'm 26 weeks now, and so this quarter will be the third trimester too.  Already I cant bend over.  I cant get up out of a chair or bed without making the most ridiculous noises. I'm gutted I dont have that lovely bowling ball baby bump - I've just blown out like a barrel!  Anyway.  Its a scary quarter for me, so I dont anticipate a great deal of finishes.  I really should be sewing for beany anyway, and none of those projects are started so wont count in the finish along.  Bummer.
I do have just as many wips as usual though, so just in case I turn into a manic sewing lady machine, here they are, starting with a few carried over from last time.

brit bee round two to be a quilt as you go...

almost finished cushion!

solid charms, quilt or back?  dunno yet.

needs hand quilting, not a hope of finishing!!!

Needs enlarging and extending so I can send off a decent size to a pro to quilt.

The cape Ann hexies, fair bit of work still to do here.

Powerpop Pluses, cut and ready to go.  (thanks mum!)

my altered made in Amy star, cut and ready to go (again, ta mum!)

sizzix cut circles, got a few ideas for these...

Simply sampler blocks, only needs to be a 2x3 quilt top for me to be finished.

Sizzix cut monotone mega strip - need to do something nice with this!

The vintage stripes quilt, only 6 blocks to go and not all like this one.

Looking at all these, the only things I HAVE to get done for this quarter are the Powerpop, the Made in Amy, the Cape Ann hexies, and the Simply Sampler quilt top.  But I'd really like to get the texty circles done, and it would be a shame not to finish the vintage stripes (getting so close!) and the cushion cover.

However.  There is a beany on the way to consider.  (just in case you'd forgotten...)  I'd like to make some more bibs.  I have the fabric to make 3 blankies (just for snuggling round the house and car and pram etc, as apparently you're not advised to let a sleeping baby have a quilt.  boo!).  I'd like to make some drool neckerchiefs.  I'd like to make a pair or two of bigbuttbabypants.  I've got a bundle set aside for a superheroes quilt, and a bundle of Constellation for another beany quilt.  I've got solids set aside to make a circular / octagonal playmat....
And lets not even get into the bundle I've been staring at for the last 2 months which was supposed to become my seminole pieceing / improv quilt.  And the jelly roll that is waiting to become my negative space / modern art quilt top.  Or the strips set aside to become ...  well, I wont go into any more, its all rather ridiculous really.  Prime example of my complete inability to concentrate on one thing for long enough.
Oh, but theres also the scrappy mini quilt I made years and years ago (yuck!) which I'd like to turn into a catnip filled Elliecat blankie.  She's going to need extra comfort this winter.... Poor mite has no idea of the horrors coming her way!
Well, lets just hope I can sit upright for long enough!!!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Build up your library...

I'd love to write a book.

Lynne and Kerry have a book coming out.  Laura Jane has a book coming out.  Lucie Summers has a book out.  The fat quarterly team could fill a wee shelf...  but I think the day I manage to write anything other than the odd blog post is about as likely coming as the day I win the lottery and get my dream house in Edinburgh with the quilty studio in the garden, the border terrier and the new hip...  Anyway.
I'm sure I'm not the only one looking forward to the release of Lynne & Kerrys and Lauras books, and I'm sure we'll hear a great deal more about them in the run up to Christmas.   However.  Today I thought I'd take a little time to look at some less well known additions to ones library, courtesy of an afternoons browsing on Abe Books.

For the quilter who's hubby rolls his eyes at "yet another quilty book", see how long it takes him to spot this one on the shelves...

Still Stripping After 25 Years

Eleanor Burns

For the knitters out there who tire of socks and scarves and what not, this beautifully written book is GENIUS.  

For the stitchers amoungst you, get your needles out as there's something for everyone... 

And my favourite embroidery book, which covers the arty, the beautiful, the subversive, and the sublime

For the toymaker, and those who'd like to have a lifesize nylon granny sitting in the corner of your livingroom...  seriously, check it out...  

For the baker who never had time for that Degree in Modern Art they'd always dreamt of...

Modern Art Desserts

Caitlin Freeman

For the crafter that turns her hand to everything....

And for the crazy catwomen who didnt much fancy the 30 day shred...

3rd Quarter Round up 2013

Round up!
3rd Quarter Finish Along list
First Quilt top to need finishing is California dreamin.

Second quilt top that needs finishing is my wonderful Spidey bee top. I'm looking forward to some hand quilting here.

This lovely pile of precut bits?  Secret !!
Its a quilt top now, but not finished. 

The PB&J HST quilt.  Bit of a nightmare but should come good!

An oldy but hopefully still worth finishing...
Its a quilt top or back, but not finished.

Another texty one, you're going to like this one....  

Carried over from last time, cushion cover in the making.
Ooh so close, its quilted and the back is cut, but not finished.

Carried over from the last time, the good old stripey quilt...
Believe it or not I've done loads on this one, but its not finished.

Carried over from last time, my brit bee blocks.  Got a lot to do here...
No, not touched this one recently :-( 

Some Linus quilts to finish for others.
Blimey, forgot I had these...

Two quilt as you go panels, maybe a tote?

Feels  a bit disappointing, but when I remember how much of this quarter has been spent asleep or puking... I think I've done pretty bloody well!