Wednesday 28 March 2012

enough about me...

I think after last post you all must be so bored hearing about me.  So, this post is just going to be some pictures of some of the things I've been up to lately...

There was the knitting / crafty project bag I made for a lovely lass.

Natural linen and a print in natural linen with red and pink flowers.  Black leather and webbing handles.

Lookin in...  recessed zipper, interior pockets and exterior front and side pocket.

Its a big ol' bag, about 9 1/2" wide and about 13 1/2" ish tall, 4" front to back.  Its got a big pocket on the front, ideal for books or patterns, a skinny pocket on the side which could have knitting needles in 'em, its pretty roomy inside too and there's a long slim pocket at the bottom, and some wee divider pockets up top for things like seam rippers, crochet hooks, marker pens, thimble... just stuff, y'know.

I was making it up as I went along designing it especially so it was a bit hairy at times... like when my front and side bit WOULD NOT MATCH and I had to stop trying cos I was running out of fabric (the needles were tearing the linen too much and I was almost out of seam allowance).  D'OH!  Its got a solid base with feet too, but I'm thinking maybe I should have top stitched all the edges to make it really stand firm.

I attempted a recessed zipper too, which sorta worked, in that I don't think I did anything much wrong, but also looks a wee bitty weird too, and I'm not sure that it worked as I wanted it to exactly.  But don't get me wrong, I was actually quite pleased with how it turned out, and lovely lass liked it too so that's just wonderful!!  Happiness all round.

Three Stained Quilt block 1 done.

Also, I've done all my Stained blocks, and am now putting the top together.  Forgot to photo the other blocks... And the photos are terrible lately too, I seem to permanently have the shakes, and if its not that then its bloomin dark...    Although yes, we have had some sunshine here too this week.  I just tend to finish things after dark more often than not!

As well as being half way through piecing the Stained top, I'm also almost done piecing another top, which all told will leave me with 5 quilt tops...  Oh dear....  Can you tell I am not quite so keen on the actual quilting?!!

Oh, and well done to those of you who answered my questions!!  The rest of you - we know you're just avoiding admitting to farting in public......

Thursday 22 March 2012

Humour me....

*Update*  Well don't I feel like a right little numpty.  Half an hour I spent trying to get the needle and or pin out of my machine.  I did try.  Really hard.  24hrs I spent after that, moping and whining, then my man had a look at it. To be more precise, he sat down, pulled the needle out, pulled the pin out, and said "I don't get it, what did you say was the problem?"
Never mind eh, my beloved machine is working again.  Not that I have anything to show I'm afraid!  The only things I've been working on are still surprises at the moment so are under wraps for the meantime.  
Another thing that's really making me feel like a dunce is my rotary cutter.  With blades costing about a fiver to replace, I invested in a rotary sharpener at over £25.  Tonight was my third attempt at using it, and the third time I've failed and will need to go buy another blade...

This is it, and this is the tutorial I've been watching and following avidly.  Does anyone else have one?  Is anyone else having a problem with it?  Am I just really really thick?!!

On a nicer note - I've been tagged, three times in fact.  I am "IT"....  Each person asks 11 questions.  I've cut a few out so that you're not sitting reading 33 questions, I hope that's okay and that my answers dont bore you all too much...  

Katys Questions

1. If you had a whole day entirely to yourself when you could do anything you want, go anywhere you want, and money was no object, what would you do?
Go to Monkey World in Dorset...  

2. Where is your favourite holiday spot?
Either York, or Lisbon.  I've had holidays in York before and I just love it, and I lived in Lisbon for a few years and still long to go back!

3. What is your favourite time of the year?
Spring....  There's something in the air... 

4. What's the favourite part of your garden, if you have one, and if not, what would you like to have?
My garden....hmph.  Got a 6ft square of paving that hardly ever gets sun out the back ,which I did try and pretty with pots and I have brought some burds to it...  Out front I have a wee patch of gravel just off the pavement... which I've stuck a few pots on and a raised bed box.  And a tree, in a pot.  As for my gardening skills though, its survival of the fittest...
I'd love to have a walled garden, like the secret garden.  Wild, hidden, private, and a tree swing....   and a grumpy old gardener to do the work...  Or a a forest with a stream.  Ooooh yeah a forest with a stream.  

5. What is your favourite book ever?
My favourite book, aside from "the broons" and "oor Wullie" was "Sophies World" by Jostein Gaarder.  Its fascinating thought provoking stuff, in a great story, and I have a brain like a sieve so never remember a single word of it....  I've read it 4 times, and each time enjoy every minute of it,  and still wont remember any of it...

7. I've come round for dinner - I don't like fish, lamb or avocados, and am deathly allergic to bananas and kiwi fruit, so what are you making me? (and no Susan and Hadley, you are not meant to be trying to kill me ;o) )
Mushroom and Ale pie with peas and mash, and cheesecake for afters.  That do you?  I used to LOVE cooking.  These days I dont like it, it tires me out so much, and the chances of me getting it cooked without falling asleep are slim to none.  Mostly I do comfort food!  I do a mean Mac and Cheese...  or Veggie sausage beans and mash pie... or veggie nutty "sausage" rolls.  Basically, you'll be gettin veggie, and if you want anything more than just comfort food, then you better keep me company in the kitchen!

8. I've won the lottery and I'm buying all my friends one special gift, what would you like?
Oooh can I have a new hip please?  No?  Well, can I please have tickets to see "Avenue Q"?  You and Jack can come too....

9. I'm running the ideal job centre, where we can find you any job you'd like, what would it be?
I'd make a damn fine Mattress tester.  I'd still like to be a writer.  Or, I'd love to be an editor....

11. You have a day to spend with anyone you like in the world, who would it be?
So many friends in other countries that I'd love to see, then there's mum and dad too.... but to choose right now, I'd love to spend the day with my brother and his wife cos I miss them so much.  

Tanyas Questions

1) What is the meal and/or cake you most regularly cook?
Sweetcorn fritters and salad.  (I'm assuming you weren't referring to what I transfer from freezer to oven...)  And cake wise, probably a banana cake :-)

2) If you had a totally free weekend coming up (and a decent amount of cash in your wallet) what would you choose to do with the time?
Edinburgh....  Meet up with mates, have a wander round old haunts, eat out!

3) What have you made that you are most proud of?
My Single Girl quilt, and the first Stained Quilt!  Single girl cos I never thought I'd get it done it was such a challenge, and Stained Quilt cos I loved it, and it's made me so happy that others have liked it enough to want to make one themselves.

4) What makes you happy?

Getting a hug.  Elliecat purring and nuzzling up to me.  Being with my family.  Getting post - letters, emails, fabric... Being in Edinburgh.  Playing around with fabric!

5) What tip would you give me?
Have some sour cream with your chocolate cake... yummm.  And a coffee.  And put your feet up.

6) What was your best moment of the past year?
Mum visiting and spending 2 and a half weeks in the sewing cupboard with me.  Oh, and when some of my wonderful Brit bee ladies volunteered to help me get to the FQ retreat when I'd said it was something I couldn't really do alone.

10) What colour should I decorate my loft bedroom?
Very pale grey, then your colour scheme is always in whatever bed linen / curtains you have and you can change it easily!

11) What's your best time saving advice?
Switch the telly off and put Radio 6 or 4 Extra on instead...

Judiths Questions

1.       What is your favourite ice cream flavour/brand?
Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey and Coconutterly Fair.  Haagen Daz Praline.

2.       What kind of stuff do you like to watch on telly?
Mostly Sky Movies, and comedy.  I LOVE the big bang theory.  That really makes me laugh out loud.  So does Miranda.

3.       What are your favourite colour combos for fabric at the mo?
Grey.  Grey with Orange.  Grey with Teal.  Grey with Red.  Grey with Yellow.  Just cant seem to get enough shades / prints of grey!

4         & 5. Who in your life do you most admire and why?
My dad.  He's just awesome.  I dont want to start saying why cos I'd go on and on and on, and I'm getting teary mum is too.  And brother and sister in law ;-)  Don't worry, he's not dead or anything.  He just is pretty wonderful and we're all utter softies....

6.       What inspired you to first start sewing/quilting?
I'm not entirely sure, but I think it was a mix of wandering around really fancy Interiors shops in Lisbon with no cash, and the "make it yourself" mentality that mum always displayed!  That and the fact that I'd already started buying fabric, so was bound to think of something to do with it eventually...

7.       What part of your body do you like the most?
Big surprise here I'm sure - none of it.  Sorry to be so pathetic but I really do have a zero common sense complete incapability of liking anything about it in any way.  I cant stand it.

9.       Would you describe yourself as more of a patchworker or a quilter, or both?
Ooh, well, I suppose if we're being technical it has to be patchworker as I really dont like the
"quilting" aspect!!  I'm sure I'd feel differently if I had a large table with a sinky bit for the machine, or a big machine with stitch regulator and a frame, or a long arm....

11.   What are you most looking forward to this year?
Meeting my lovely Brit Bee ladies and many many more at the Fat Quarterly Retreat in June...  AS IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW!

My questions are the following.
1  Who did you blame for your last public fart?
2  What's your favourite TV theme tune and why.
3  Tell me, what's on your 15 minute mix tape?
4  Roller boots or roller blades?
5  If a cushion is a pillow what's a pillow?
6  Who is your Dr. (who)?
7  If you don the ruby slippers and click your heels etc, where you gonna end up?
8  What fragrance is your fabric softener?
9  Bananas - young and firm or old and soft?
10  Why IS a raven like a writing desk?
11  What was the last thing that totally grossed you out?

I'm tagging Ceri, Susan, Laura, Hadley, Judith, Katy, Giles, Magpie Mimi, Lynz, Nicke, Kat, and since I should really tag 33 I'm also gonna tag AnnabellaRhonda Lucy, Sarah, Cindy, Julie, Jan, Jennie, Reene, Sarah pings, Fiona, Trudi, Di, Leanne, Shevy, Emily, Alison and I'm getting really sleepy doin all these links so I'll say  AND anyone else who'd care to indulge me :-)

In fact, everybody do a blog post just with your answers, no explanations, and lets all just have a good laugh eh?  Or not... whatever...  ;-)

Monday 19 March 2012

Pinning horror

One of the many "rules" of sewing I'm not very good at following is the pinning rule.  Pin things before you sew them so that they stay together up to the last minute and then you will get your perfect points and matching seams and all that....
I hate pinning to be honest.  I have a big thing about counting pins, and I get in a massive panic if I think I've dropped one...  
They slow things down.  They get blunt and sometimes leave marks.  You have to be careful when pinning things to make sure you dont shift the fabric when you stick the pin in (thus defeating the entire purpose).  I always get jabbed by pins.  You have to sew slowly so that you can take the pins out as you come to them.
Of course it probably doesnt help that I tend not to select the style of pin in accordance to how I'm about to use them.  No.  I tend to select my pins on the basis that some taste better than others....  Anyway.

I hate pinning.  I mostly dont bother.  Unfortunately there are some things that really do need pinning.   Like the many layers in bag making for instance.
 If you are of a nervous disposition look away...

(yes I have unscrewed the needle from the arm, thats not what you're looking at....)

I was a split second too slow at pulling the pin out.  That or it was another of my marvellously bent pins.  Whichever.  The needle and pin are now one, somewhere beneath the dogs.  Cannot for the life of me shift either.  Or get my sewing out to finish on old machine.  Not without cutting it out, and its 3 days work that was sooooo close to finish so I'm not about to cut it out.  

Am a little upset!!!  

Where I live you cant just take machine to repair either.  It cant be handed in for servicing.  
What to do?

In a vain attempt to cheer myself up, I've entered Katy and Brenda's bundle competition...CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT ABOUT IT.  Its a generous competition to win a bunde of your own choice, and for your bundle to be available in the shop for others too.  This is my pick.

Top L-R
Medallion in green from Flea Market Fancy by Denise Schmidt
Hello Pilgrim Jewels in purple by Lizzy Scott
Mono Pez in Sky Blue, from Pezzy Prints by American Jane
Circuit in black Mechanical Genius by Mo Bedell

Middle  L-R
Roundabout dots in orange fizz from Modern Workshop by Oliver & S
Heath in Metal Pink by Alexander Henry
Fizz in Yellow from Fruit Slice by Khristian A Howell
Color me Check in Natural by Studio E

Bottom L-R
Daisys Dates in Graphite from Reunion by Sweetwater
Circle Stripes in Cloud Gray from A walk in the woods by Aneela Hoey
Dots in Steel Gray from Half Moon Modern by Momo
Dash Stripes in Cloud Gray from A walk in the woods by Aneela Hoey

I always love greys.  I almost always love anything bright.  But aside from that, this bundle is probably based on my most recent fabric crush....

Washi Tape in Charcoal by Rashida Coleman -Hale for Timeless Treasures

Something else that cheers me up... My Stained Quilt Along group on flickr is up to 60 members!  And, we have our first finish!

staind picnic
Staind Picnic & Fairgrounds by Lynz @ Domestic light and magic

Isn't it wonderful?  Staind Picnic & Fairgrounds!  Its by the equally wonderful and awffy lovely Lynz who blogs at Domestic Light and Magic
I love it!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Brunch at Jenners...

Its a little bit behind schedule, but I have finally got my package for 'For the love of Solids' swap done and off to its secret destination...  True to form there are a few wee mistakes that I know about and see immediately... but after the telling off you lot gave me the last time I said there was a mistake I'm trusting they are nothing that anyone other than me would care about!!  (Thanks for the boost!)

top  l-r 20" spinning rainbows cushion cover, curvey improv piecing side of 12" x 10" zippy pouch
bottom l-r spikey improv piecing side of same zippy pouch, embroidered mug rug.

Hopefully partner will approve.  I am certainly more than happy with the little bundle I received this week from Allegory @ {sew} allegorical  She has spoiled me, I feel I've recieved 2 "big items" as I got a lovely cushion cover AND this AWESOME Pacman Mini Quilt!  I really love them, and am so happy too that she said she had fun making for me.

 The awesome swap package I received!  Checkered cushion cover AND pacman mini
So, a big THANK YOU to Allegory!  I also need to say thank you to Emily @ Strawberry Patch and Jennifer @ Closet Quilter  as they have both given me the Liebster Blog award.

The rules of the Liebster are as follows

1. Thank the giver and link back to her/him.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and leave a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too!

This time I shall pass it on to Allegory @ {sew} allegorical cos Pacman Rocks...
Tusen @ a quilt, maybe cos she's lovely and you should see her First Frost Mini Quilt
Ashley @ Jellybean's Odds and Ends who aside from making me feel old also does some fabulous knits
Jennie @ Just a little stitch who is very patient (read patiently waiting for my February bee block...)
and the lovely Ceri @ Inspired by Felix whom I adore cos she keeps me company in the sewing cupboard via phone and its great fun :-)  Oh and her quilting rocks too... naturally...  check this out!

Thank you for all the comments on the last post by the way, sorry I didnt get round to replying this time.  I did have a lovely wee break away - Edinburgh is my favourite place.  I didnt grow up there, but I was born there and my family are all from round abouts, and to me it has always been home.  I cant really express just how much I love it there.  Its like a gut feeling thing.  I get there and I am happy.  The "fancy luxury hotel" was a bit pants tho.  I've been composing scathing blog posts, online reviews and complaints letters in my head all weekend.... but I'm not going to bother.  I'll just put it this way.  A website and brochure shows you these...

And charges a small fortune for a "Jacuzzi Suite".

Would you be happy with this?

And dont get me started on the fact that you needed pliers to switch it on.... and the shower didnt work properly.... and the "body" jets smacked me right in the face whilst soaking the entire room.....  And I could go on and on about the rest of the place.  But I wont.  Lesson learned.  You cant beat cheap and cheerful!

Edinburgh was, of course, wonderful.  Lots of lovely eating out....including a wonderful brunch at Patisserie Florentin of toasted baguette, swiss cheese, butter & jam, apple juice, yoghurt and coffee for £4.20, bargain!

And a little more pricey but OMG so good grilled field mushrooms on toasted bun with melted gooey camemberg and rocket with pesto and cherry tomatoes (seriously tasty and a massive plateful) for £5.90 at Jenners.  Jenners is the best.  If you're familiar with Breakfast at Tiffanys (one of my favourite films) Holly says of Tiffanys 
                 "It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets."

Just substitute the men in suits for ladies 'of a certain age' and the silver & alligator wallets for chanel and cream teas and you've got Jenners....My Tiffanys!
All its missing is fabric... like John Lewis's (yes I swiped 5 yards of Joel Dewberry for £25!!)....

Anyway.  It was wonderful to get away, and I want to go back already.  Very much...  am a bit homesick actually...  oh well.  Got more than enough sewing to be gettin on with ;-)

Saturday 3 March 2012

the one that got away came to me

I received a lovely swap package this week, from Erin who blogs at Billy Button Design.

 Erin made me a really gorgeous zippy pouch.  She's paid so much attention to things that I like, and she got it so right.  Solids.  Fab colours.  Linen.  Crazy improv piecing on one side.  And a really gorgeous mega pleated back.

Also included, a lovely Russian doll pincushion, and a scrap bundle.  No, an AMAZING scrap bundle.  Look at all these!!

So many gorgeous prints there, I was really delighted.  THANK YOU ERIN!

Now, I have to say, I feel pretty bad.  I remember seeing this pouch.  I remember liking this pouch.  I remember liking the fabric pics.  However, when I went back and looked, I was horrified to find I had only commented ONCE.  And reading it again, it didnt even sound all that good a comment either.  Poor Erin.  I know how it feels to be in a swap and not hear from your partner.  Or when you eventually do they dont sound so impressed.  I know how discouraging that feels.  So I feel even worse now knowing that I might have caused that for my partner.  Erin, I am so sorry.  I DO really like my zippy, its lovely, and so thoughtful.  (And wow those scraps are fantastic!).

I tried my best to keep up with commenting on all the photos submitted.  I really did.  One night in particular I was at it for 3 hours going through all the pictures and trying to comment on everything.  So I dont really know what to say.  Except sorry Erin, my pouch is lovely, thank you!

I'm still working on my For the Love of Solids main item, but I also played around for a while and did this as a possible panel for the "small item".   

Its my attempt at rapid, not thinking just doing style piecing.  Tell me honestly....  Acceptable or just  a mess?!  I'm sure it wont surprise most of you to hear that I'm thinking "mess"... 

I'll not be online for a few days, tis the mans birthday this week, and he's treating us to a few nights in a posh hotel somewhere....  My online bargain hunting skills were put to good use, fingers crossed we've got a cracker of a deal...  Teeeeny bit concerned that it's a bit TOO posh, as I have realised that aside from pyjamas the only thing that fits me right now is a particularly holey pair of denims.........that I spilled a whole glass of red wine on last night when I dozed off for 0.5 seconds with the glass in my hand.........  Oh dear...  

Thursday 1 March 2012

spread the love...

Thank you to everyone who commented on the last post, I was overwhelmed by all your support and encouragement.
One comment I'd like to share here in case you didn't see it, was left by my mate Alison in Germany.  She's known me since were were 11 and is one of my dearest friends.

"Having witnessed your cataplexy first hand I want to assure you that while the first time is slightly disconcerting for the onlooker, it almost immediately becomes nothing "special" (ah, that's just Sarah slumping down the kitchen units again). Also, you unintentionally give your conversational partners a bit of an ego boost (that last joke was so good she lost consciousness! How witty am I?!). In fact you've got so many lovely friends there you'll probably have to make an effort to have more attacks so that everyone gets a chance to catch you!"

Also, my brother pointed out "surely with all those quilts and cushions and fabric and stuff you're basically gonna be in a big padded cell anyway..."  

Quite a few of you asked if I could do a "what to do when.." guide to, well, me.   So here goes.  Obviously this is not how to deal with all Narcoleptics, I'm only talking bout ME!  

Its all kinda obvious really, and I don't want to be condescending... Basically, don't take offence!  I get tired.  Sometimes its suddenly, sometimes it only lasts a minute or so, sometimes I need to shut my eyes for a couple of minutes.   I swear, I'm not intentionally rude,but apparently I often look like I'm pissed off and bored when really its just, unfortunately, my face..tiredness.   I'm not going to be offended if you want to say "have you been paying attention?", just don't you be offended if the answer is "no..."
If I need to take a nap, there's no need to quiet down and whisper or leave.  Just carry on with whatever was going on, I'll come round soon enough.  Be warned tho, sometimes, just sometimes, I can sleep but still hear everything.......  hehehe...

As for the falling over, pretend I've not told you about it!  Don't worry about making me laugh, really, I want to laugh.  Just don't worry if I wobble about or go cross eyed!  If I'm holding something, it'd be nice if you could maybe make sure I don't spill or drop it...  If my knees are going and I'm not already leaning on something, it'd be nice if who ever is next to me could hold my elbow or put an arm round my waist or something, just so I don't end up on the floor.... If, and this is rare, if I get a mental fit of the giggles and cant stop collapsing, help me to sit - maybe on the floor but leaning against you.  That'd be super.  

But I'm hoping that the enormous excitement that's building will generate enough adrenaline to keep me going!

Right, bit of a boring post, sorry!  I've not been sewing much, but I have gotten a start on my For the love of solids Project....

Foundation Paper Piecing Fun...  spot the mistake...

And, before I go, I MUST remember my manners and say a bit thank you to three LOVELY bloggers, who have all passed a bloggy award on to me in the last couple of weeks.  
Siobhan at Shevy London who does some pretty wonderful FMQ, and made me this lovely hanging

Shevys mini quilt

Giles at Touch and Sew who is a sweet toothed nutcase exceptionally clever chap who made his first quilt despite not actually being able to see...

Giles' first quilt!

and Nadia at Multicoloured Pieces who not only writes a fascinating blog but is also the most amazing fabric artist...

"post revolution in my garden"
The rules of the Liebster are as follows

1. Thank the giver and link back to her/him.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and leave a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too!

Now here's where I have a wee bit of a problem... Since I've had to cut down on the number of blogs I read, or I 'd never get anything done, I don't really know of many new blogs...  So.  Here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to check out small blogs on Lilys Quilts,  and the first 5 that I really like I'll award.
I know its perhaps not following the rules, but I think it needs to spread its wings a bit!

1.  Vikki @  The Cosy Tea  who has loads of gorgeous projects on the go
2. Nicole @ Mama Love Quilts who's February round up was stuffed with really really cool projects
3.  Mina @ Kinda Quilty who's mod mood quilt had my jaw on the carpet its so freakin awesome...
4. Kelly @ Jeli Quilts  who made one of my favourite pouches in the Mouthy Stitches swap
5. Alison  @ The Procrastinating Sketcher cos I love her...