Thursday 27 January 2011

Nicey Thoughts

One of the many, many joys of Narcolepsy that is never really mentioned (I've spoken to others with Narcolepsy and they all confirmed its not just me!) is that you tend to catch every bug that's going around.  I guess it's down to the fact that we're permanently sleep deprived and therefor not 100% up to strength when it comes to fighting off passing germs.  I'm so thankful not to be working anymore - dealing with the public I ended up coming down with whatever was going around all the bloody time!  Last year, first year not working, I was hardly sick at all.  Seem to have picked up a right doozy this time though - some virus or other that leaves me looking like I've got a severe case of chicken pox, that the doc said isn't serious, isn't catching, isn't permanent, but isn't treatable and I just have to wait for it to go away of its own accord, which could take 6 -8 weeks....  I've had my day of feeling sorry for myself, so now its time for some "bright side" thinking.  Bright side number one, its not like i need to go out or be anywhere.  Bright side number two, spots all appeared the day my man left, so he didn't get to see me looking like some kind of star trek alien! 

More happy thoughts, what was one far, far too big baby quilt top is now two perfectly sized baby quilt tops!

Unpicked and split in half...

One of two same size!

Another happy thought, my wee Ellie cat gives me plenty of cuddles no matter how spotty I look!

Another happy thought, I make rather yummy chocolate chip cookies....

I got another Andy Griffiths DVD for Christmas...

For those of you unaware of The Andy Griffith Show (I don't remember it ever being shown on telly in UK) it is the tv equivalent of being wrapped up in a warm and cosy quilt on the sofa with a mug of cocoa and some chocolate chip cookies on a cold, dark, rainy afternoon. 

And sticking with niceness, I've cut into my stash of Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane range for another baby quilt. 

I love this range, it so suits its name, its just so nice!  Gorgeously girly but not too pink, flowery but not too twee, so sunny and bright....  Cant wait to get this quilt top going! 

Monday 24 January 2011


All is not rosy at the home of the sewing cupboard.  Not rosy, more blue.  In mood and in language!  My other half has gone off to earn the money and will be away at sea for the next 4 months or so, so its back to just being me and the kitty.  As if I wasn't miserable enough, I seem to have managed to catch something - quite an achievement for an almost recluse like myself.  I feel rotten, and itchy.  I would google it, but I'd only end up convinced I have leprosy or something.  I prefer to keep my overactive imagination as far from medical information as possible, its safer that way...  Am actually considering consulting a doctor - so it must be bad!  Bit worried I might be allergic to new purple hair, am having visions of a shaved head...  Eeewwww must change subject...

I have done some sewing believe it or not.  Unfortunately I haven't exactly been happily enjoying it, I do feel pretty pants, I've just been trying to keep my brain busy with something! 

Sew squares into pairs, sew pairs into strips, join strips!
 I've been following Crazy Mom Quilts zig zag tutorial, except I'd re-worked the sizes and quantities so that I could use up a Jelly Roll.

My mathematical skills have proven to be non-existent, again, and my zig-zag quilt has turned out rather larger than intended....

Pretty much twice the size I had intended...
Which has lead me to the following brainwave - split whats done in half, add another zig (or zag) to each half using what i had left over (plenty thankfully), and make two!  Rather handy as it turns out, as I know two sisters who have each had a wee boy in the last couple of months.  It's a bit of an annoying thought to have to cut more and do more squares and strips and such when I thought I'd finished.  But on the other hand I'll end up with 2 quilt tops done!  Man I love sewing!!  Always something to be happy about ;-) 

Thursday 13 January 2011

To boldly go...

I've been making a start on the first quilt of the year, which I've been quite excited about.  Not that the quilt itself is particularly exciting, but I hope it will be quite nice.  I have to hold my hands up and say that this week I have actually crossed the line from planning into procrastination...  Which is why I haven't even got the quilt top done yet. 
I have been doing some planning (drawing out patterns and resizing and trying to figure out quantities etc) some research (trawling the net for free patterns and tutorials) and some learning (thanks Miss P...)  but if I'm honest I've also been doing a fair bit of, well, nothing...  In my defense we're into the last two weeks of having my man at home for a while, and I can sit up in the sewing cupboard alone most of the year.  So, I feel justified in my vegging, even if it was in front of (god help me) hours of Star Trek!  And not even the kitsch cool Spock ones...

I did get little bits done each day though.  Picked the strips to use from the jelly roll, cut the solids.

Sew the strips into pairs.  This was harder than it looks, for me anyway.  Too simple and monotonous for little ol' sleepy head.  Got me a little ol' sore head... One smack on the forehead as it hit the table, one smack on the jaw as it hit the top of the sewing machine...  No marks on my face though, yay! Iron the seams. 

Cut into 4 1/2" squares.

And this is how far I've gotten so far.

Hmmm, its looking kinda bigger than I expected, but then I suppose it'll get smaller once the seams are sewn. 
I have also decided to join in with the Craft Book Challenge too, make at least one item from each craft book you own.  Good idea, I think, and really it should fit in with my 2011 Goals anyway as most on my shelves are bag/quilt books anyway!  And I'm slowly coming round to the idea that I could maybe take up a shirt hem myself...  but not yet.  Used up my adventurousness for the week on Monday.  Went to the hairdressers for the day. 

Hate going to the hairdressers; its bad enough knowing I'm going to fall asleep in public, which could easily involve snoring and / or drooling (I'm a delightful sleeper!)  but I will also be forced to look at myself in full length mirrors.  Pass a bucket...  Then I get all depressed cos I cant exactly hang a sign around my neck saying "not an utterly miserable cow, honest, just tired". 

Aim of the day was to get most of my hair cut off, and the rest of it full of purple!  Well, if I'm living like a hermit who gives a flying **** what i look like!  Unfortunately it hasn't turned out quite as expected.  Don't get me wrong, the lass was brilliant, one of the nicest hairdressers I've met up here, she did a lovely job and made the afternoon as pleasant as possible.  But, what was meant to be "wow, I've got purple hair" is a bit more "I've got purple hair, seriously, keep looking, its in there somewhere!".  Four and a half hours, and must have been at least 60 foils, but can you see it?  Nope.  Cant I find it?  Well, yes, but only when I stand in front of a mirror raking my fingers through my head like I'm on some kind of nit mission...  A touch disappointing I'm afraid.  Oh well, I tried!

Friday 7 January 2011

The post may be running late, and infuriatingly randomly at the moment, but my goodness a whole lot of happiness arrived this morning.

Tanya Whelan's Dolce

Amy Butler's Daisy Chain

Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush

Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush

Sea from Cloud9 organic cotton
 Some of the above I got for Christmas, some of it I got in January pre-vat increase sales...
Something that didn't quite make the condensed 2011 list, but has remained in my mind, is to try and establish some good habits, in the sewing cupboard at least ;-)    A lot of quilt makers recommend you pre-wash all your fabric before you use it.  They also say that you should iron seams religiously.  I've been ironing all my seams for a few months now, and boy does it make a difference.  So much easier to continue joining sections when the seams are all beautifully flat and in the right direction!  So, pre-washing.  I thought it was about time I got stuck into following that advice too. 

I have to admit I was so nervous about colour run, I did a 30 degree wash, well 3 of them as I separated everything into lights and darks, and then inbetweens!  I also stuck in some colour catcher sheets.  A whole lot of "ruined fabric" scenarios occupied my naps...    Fortunately the colours looked fine!  Happy happy.  No runs, all the gorgeous bright beautiful patterns still gorgeously bright and beautiful.  But oh the threads, the threads, everywhere.  The fraying...  So sad, so horrible.  "Pre-wash to get shrinkage over and done with, so your finished quilt doesn't shrink much."  Sod fabric shrinkage, the only shrinkage I'm seeing is the terrible waste of fraying, brought on by pre-washing!

A little point of note, for anyone as dumb as me (I'm assuming most of you will know this so apologies for stating the obvious to clever folk) Never let your cotton fabric do a full cycle on tumble dry.  Have the brains to remember to stop the machine and take everything out before its completely dry.  Its not so important with most clothes these days, as most clothes these days have a certain degree of Lycra or polyester or some man made non natural substance to them, making them relatively ready to wear.  Given that I now have the memory of a gnat I almost always, well, actually just always to be honest, completely forget I've put a load in and it can sit in washing machine or dryer for days...  But back to the cotton.  Or at least what I know was cotton but now resembled the fabric equivalent of a car crushed into a wee metal cube.   Not so happy, happy. 

Sticking with my new "find the bright side" challenge, I got to use my lovely new ironing board cover for a good 11 hours.  (that's not including the frequent essential naps).  Here's a thought - Cath Kidston, so many pretty things, so girly, so cute, so moreish.  So expensive!  So I'm sure I'm not the only girl who couldn't resist the sale.  Might it then be an idea NOT to package the stuff in boxes with "Cath Kidston" boldly spread across every angle, might it be possible that more girls would be tempted if the packages arrived in unmarked boxes?  Or am I the only one who considers it a guilty pleasure?

No such thing as a sneaky Cath Kidston purchase...

Another little bright side (I'm getting the hang of this, i think) is that I think I have found the most delicious most delightful fabric softener on the market.  How good is this stuff?  It actually made me not HATE ironing!  Well, not HATE with the normal degree of intensity at least, which i think says a great deal.  Even when my will to live was flagging, a hot fresh waft of jasmine drifted up and reminded me so much of living in Lisbon, where some Jasmine grew up the side of the front door to just under my bedroom window.  Warm, scented Happy Happy Happy...

The sheer hell of a million brutal irrepressible creases over, I can store my beloved bundle bounty ready to use - albeit with the firm intention not to bother to pre-wash fat quarters, and for gods sake girl remember not to tumble dry the crap out of cotton ever again.  

Now you'd think after all that I'd be getting stuck right in to using one of those beauties.  Think again!  I am going to prolong the pleasure and keep them on display for a wee while, enjoying every minute of planning what to do with them!  In the mean time i have 3 jelly rolls from last year to enjoy!

First up will be Moda Pure Sweetwater range, used in this intriguing pattern from Crazy Mom Quilts on Bee Square Blog   A new pattern for me to try, one that looks like triangles but (thank god) ISN'T!    Well, one step at a time eh? 


Thursday 6 January 2011

End and Beginning

And finally, the last make of 2010 was Monkey Mark II.  A little something for my man to take with him for the host family of the New Year party I couldn't go to. 

Monkey Mark II

Monkeys!  Mark I and II together for one minute only...
Happy New Year to one and all!  I'm a bit late in posting again, I had a bit of a crash after new year.  Days of just having no energy at all, no will to move.  I'm feeling a lot better now, but my nights are still really pants so I'm getting headachey every day from prolonged lack of sleep.  For days now I've been getting about an hour or so when I go to bed, then an hour or so after breakfast.  The rest is just occasional dosing for a few minutes.  Lying awake all night feeling exhausted is no fun. 

However, I have been doing a lot of planning...  I don't do resolutions as such, but this year I do have goals.  Too many actually, I've tried to write this post a few times and it always ends up pages long!  So, doing my best to condense things, here's my 2011 plans.

In 2011, I will...

Make 12 Quilts, 12 Bags, and at least a few attempts at sewing something different!
Maybe, hopefully, sell something!

In getting to these goals there are a few things I'd like to have done on the way.

1.    Learn how to do free motion quilting
2.    Make a quilt out of something other than light/medium weight 100% cotton
3.    Make a large (Queen size) quilt.
4.    Make a quilt of my own design.
5.    Make a quilt using small scraps, ideally a spiderweb pattern. 
6.    Get over my fear of triangles!
7.    Have a go at dying and bleaching fabric to make my own  colourways for quilting.
8.    Make more effort to try new bag patterns.
9.    Use some nice wool fabric for a bag.
10.  Practice and improve my machine embroidery.
11.  Learn how to do piping.
12.  Practice and improve sewing zips into bags.
13.  Learn how to follow vintage patterns (one day my ass might be small enough to try making clothes!)

Some list eh?  And that's the condensed version!  Also, I'd really like to learn to accept Narcolepsy, in a kind of "this is my life, get used to it" kind of a way.  I really wish I could stop feeling so crappy and disappointed in myself with how little I feel I can do.  And at the same time, I've got to stop feeling guilty when i get a good day!  I know, I know, it sounds perverse, but ever since I became unfit for work its like i feel I'm not entitled to a good day, and when I get one I feel guilty and paranoid - like one of those candid cameras from the "benefit thieves" adverts is going to spot me that specific second and declare me a fraud...  (My brain may be missing valuable chemicals but it ain't short on imagination...)  Anyway.  Time to try and stop thinking about who I was, and get used to being who I am.  It ain't going away, there isn't a cure, but surely things will get better for me once I start accepting how things are and just getting on with it.

Talking of getting on with things, I'll post tomorrow with how I've been making a start.