Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

I would just like to wish everyone who has visited my blog this year a peaceful Christmas time.

Me, well I still have to finish my nephews quilt but I'm nearly there now, the dilema is do I finish cleaning the house before the boys come back or sit and finish the quilt?

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snow rose - and not much sewing

Like many of you on the eastern side of England I woke up to snow this morning. One son went to school, one had school cancelled. After doing all the jobs of feeding chickens, geese and goats we had a walk round the garden and a snowball fight as well as making snow angels. I was amazed to discover that we still had roses in the garden - in December. It is in a very sheltered part of the garden but even so is this a record?

I am making my nephew a quilt for Christmas - it needs to be ready by Boxing day and it is still a pile of squares on top of 2 metres of fleece! I am waiting for a new 24" ruler to arrive in the post so fingers crossed again for tomorrow though the chances of the postman getting down the lane look slim. I must admit to getting a bit worried now about completing it. I am too old for the sewing through the night and sewing binding on in the car whilst DH drives!!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Fantastic Giveaway

I have stumbled across this blog "I'm just a guy who quilts"which is having a great giveaway. You can win this calender and some suprise quilt related items, just pop over and follow Ryan's clear instrutions. He also gives a link to a web site from which you can view other barn quilts that people have painted. I really enjoy reading new blogs and can while away lots of time doing this, go visit Ryan. You have until December 22nd.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Birthday Goodies

Why when the house is quiet and peaceful do I still wake at 6am? It has been a peaceful weekend with youngest DS in respite and oldest at his friends house. Time to finish making some Christmas presents, I can't show photos in case anyone who they are intended for peeks! I forgot to say that I had a birthday this week and was lucky enough to get these crafty goodies along with smellies and a fab necklace. Thank you Sarah for the handmade sock knitting bag and hand dyed yarn.

Biggest thank you goes to DH for a large bottle of this -
I had a nice day as DH had the day off as well so although I dragged him round some shops we had a nice lunch together.

Coming back down to earth with a bump I am helping out at the Scout jumble sale today. Lots of my challenges are about recycling next year and my stash of recycled fabrics is dwindling. I tried to buy a mans cotton shirt in a charity shop last week and they wanted £5.50. Whilst is was a great shirt to wear, it seemed a little pricey just to cut up (it was a small so not much fabric, nice buttons though). If I get anything I will show later!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

No Cook Fudge

Nothing whatsoever to do with stitching but this has been the most popular recipe with my learners. Its very sweet, go on you know you just want to make some.

200g icing sugar
85g butter
95g condensed milk
(for chocolate fudge use 50g cocoa and 15og icing sugar)


  • Put butter into a bowl and cream with a wooden spoon until soft.

  • Mix the condensed milk with the butter. Try not to have too many lumps.

  • Add about half the icing sugar and mix in with the spoon. use your hands to mix in the rest of the sugar until it is like a dough and will be able to be kneaded. If it is too wet still add more icing sugar.

  • Roll out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar. Cut into approx. 1.5cm cubes. Leave in a fridge overnight to harden.

  • This fudge will keep for about a week. You can alter the basic mixture by dipping it in chocolate, putting in some dried fruit
  • Catching Up

    It seems like ages since my last post but I have been teaching several Christmas workshops and even some Christmas cookery along side my normal adult cooking courses! This last one is a bit of a joke with those who know me well as I hate cooking. Unfortunatley I didn't have my camera with me for these workshops but these were some the children did in York. Its not a great photo though but you can just about make them out alongside the butterflies.
    When I put my Christmas tree up today I just can't believe that it is eleven years since this hung on the tree for the first time, where does the time go? It has become a tradition to make a new tree decoration each year -
    I have also managed to get some work done for my City and Guilds diploma, the most worrying thing about this is that I seem to be enjoying working with plastic more and more. This is a page from my sketchbook
    I am really happy with this folded patchwork sample
    After folding a square I then covered it with fabric paint and used the folds to insert old lace and fabric. I also covered some cotton wadding with the same fabric paint. I used an idea from Tina, folded the backing to the front and stitched down with big stitches so you could also see the wadding. No plastic on this though.

    Sunday, 22 November 2009

    Chrismas Decorations

    I'm gearing up to teaching some Christmas workshops both locally and up in York. Today I was preparing samples and my youngest decided he wanted to make a tree decoration. He concentrated for about an hour and did everything by himself. The only thing I did was to cut around the heart shape inside. The inside was done on the embellisher machine and then trapped between red felt. I was really impressed with his determination to sew on the green beads all by himself as well. As for me, well I am struggling with a robin's legs at the moment!!

    Wednesday, 11 November 2009

    Fabric Fusion

    This is the finished piece for my friend I have been working on. It's now with the proud owner and hanging on her wall. I'm not sure if I said before but one of the workshops I teach is a six day course covering different dyeing techniques, printing, stamping, paint sticks etc etc. At the end some students decided to trade work so the fabric has been "created" by lots of different ladies. The owner of this is just about to go and have a major back op so I have made it as a kind of gift. Her brief was to make it look like it had been thrown at the wall, nothing too formal. This photo doesn't show up all the detail but I used hand and machine stitching with different binding techniques.

    These beads were from some curtain fringing.

    Blanket stitch with beads attached.

    Sunday, 8 November 2009

    Seals, fabric cuffs and fireworks

    Yesterday we all managed to get up and out early so that we could go and see these amazing seals. We are lucky enough to live quite near a nature reserve, Donner Nook in North Lincolnshire which grey seals go to each year to breed. It is really well "policed" with volunteers from the Wildlife trust making sure that the public don't disrupt the seals, we are also contained behind a strong fence. In the past week there were 134 babies born (according to the statistics in the information shed).
    Having never been before I was surprised at just how close to the fence some of the seals where. You can see the shadows of people behind the fence on this baby and mum -

    I couldn't resist a close up of mums face, nor the baby below.

    Once home I received these in the post -
    I now belong to Fibre Arts Trading Group and this was the first trade I took part in. Thank you so much to Trees and Laura if you read this post, I can't wait to wear them. I am a bit worried though as I sent off my cuffs over a week ago and my trade partners haven't received them yet. These were the cuffs I made, I have fingers and toes crossed that they arrive safely.

    The day finished with us going to a fireworks display, I discovered that my digital camera has a firework setting so I wanted to play with that
    I'm going to use some of the images and print them onto fabric for my November journal quilt.

    Friday, 16 October 2009


    I've been having a play with some rusting powder from Crafty Notions. If you want to see how I did it check out my other blog. This is a blog set up when my friend and I decided to challenge ourselves. The first thing we did was to use discharge paste. the results were very different. Pop over and have a look, its called Expedition Quilt Art.

    Tuesday, 13 October 2009

    Interesting Journey

    On Saturday I travelled with a good friend, three children and a boot full of fabric, thread, sewing machine and embellisher machine to a Quilter Guild Area 10 day. On the way we saw this -

    and this -
    altogether there were three of them -
    These straw mammoths were just standing in a field with collecting boxes to raise money for the children's ward at the local hospital. It surprised me that there were lots of CCTV cameras on them but I've since found out that the first mammoth was set on fire by arsonists.

    I had a really good day, catching up with friends and running a children's workshop. I love working with children as they don't know that they can't do anything and have a go! They really enjoyed using an embellisher machine and made some Xmas decorations. I really enjoy the show and tell, lots of talented ladies in Lincolnshire. I was going to be strong and not buy any fabric, I'm pleased to say that I stayed strong and didn't buy any fabric..........until the last hour anyway. I found a Halloween panel that I must have had 8-10 years, I have promised the boys to make it up this year so these three will go alongside it.

    I am coming to the end of a seven week stretch at a local village school. I gave up my full time teaching post a year ago as I just didn't have any work life balance. Slowly over the past few weeks my time has been taken away from me again with planning, marking and all the other things teachers have to do. No sewing, no family time and I got a really bad cold that still hasn't totally cleared. After half term I am back to regular supply teaching and working as an adult tutor, fingers crossed more time for sewing and work on my diploma (I am very behind with this). I'm also behind on lots of e-mails and blogging - sorry :-)

    A few months ago I promised a friend that I would put these pieces of fabric into a wall hanging. She did a workshop with me, over six weeks it covered dyeing, printing, stamping, rusting and everyone on the workshop made some fabric to share with each other. This is why there are a great many textures and colours-
    She doesn't blog so I can share this image. Rather than do neat seams I think I am going to overlap everything to give a more organic look, this is my latest arrangement but it changes almost daily. I am going to see her next Friday so I do need to start asap!!

    Saturday, 26 September 2009

    Ferret workshop

    This is the outcome of the workshop last weekend. It was one of the most relaxing I have been to, I learnt such a lot though. It was a great day with lovely people to chat to as well. I am quite pleased with the machine quilting although its hard to see on this photo. My machine quilting gets to a point when I think its not bad then I don't do any for ages.
    Since seeing Philippa Naylors quilts I have decided that I must improve my machine quilting. I forgot to mention last time that I bought Philippa's book, Quilting in the Limelight at her workshop. It is the story of Philippas life in quilting alongside lots of techniques. The photos are stunning, perhaps the best that I have seen in any quilting book.

    Friday, 25 September 2009

    Autumn Sunset & workshops

    After seeing the sunset on Julie's blog, I thought I would share the amazing sunset I captured earlier this week outside my window. Julie lives about 30 miles away from me. One advantage of Lincolnshire is that it's very flat with huge skies.
    I do sometimes feel privileged that this is literally outside my window.

    I am looking forwards to a quiet weekend as for the past two weekends I have been doing workshops, two weeks ago I did a day with Philippa Naylor. She was a really good tutor and very generous in sharing her knowledge. Last weekend saw me at a QGBI Region 10 day with Ferret. She was a really good speaker and not at all fazed when a lady came into the hall, shouting, "can the scouts use the toilets". The workshop on Sunday was Art Quilts by Numbers, it was a great day and lots was learnt. I will take a photo of my swan tomorrow so you can see what I did. I must admit that the curved Philippa Naylor sample isn't quite so finished.
    Just to prove though I have been stitching, this was one of my lastest journal quilts made with bleached fabrics -

    I'm also pleased to report that DS loves secondary school, my little boy is growing up fast. He has just discovered the embellisher machine and is starting to make some Christmas presents. Maybe I ought to start too!

    Wednesday, 2 September 2009

    Slipping through my fingers.................................

    Well today was the day that DS1 left me to go to Secondary school. I promised not to take any photos so this was his short journey from our gate up to the top of the lane (by the white house). It has brought back so many memories of his sudden arrival into the world eleven weeks early. The song "Slipping through my fingers" by Abba has just been going round and round inside my head as the lyrics seem so appropriate. In case you don't know or remember it starts like this (the original was about a girl though)-

    "School bag in hand he leaves home in the early morning
    Waving goodbye with an absent minded smile
    I watch him go with a surge of that well-known sadness
    And I have to sit down for a while
    The feeling that I'm losing him forever
    And without really entering his world
    I'm glad whenever I can share his laughter
    That funny little boy"

    His feet are two sizes larger than mind and he does keep hassling me for a new quilt, one which covers his toes. I have the fabric and design, why can't I buy time?

    After taking the above photo this morning I also took one of the view from my front window -

    This was on a cloudy day but the sunsets are amazing. We are lucky enough to see barn owls as well as many other birds and wildlife. Foxes are definitely not welcome though as last Winter we lost chickens, ducks and geese.

    Off now to bake a chocolate cake and smartie cookies by request.

    Wednesday, 26 August 2009

    Festival of Quilts 2

    Despite working hard I did give in to some retail therapy. I have been wanting to explore printing more so got the new book by Claire Benn & Lesley Morgan. I already have the Tray Dyeing book, this one is for a gift. It's one I really recommend though, packed with lots of information. I also got some thermofax screens to play with of different seed heads.

    Julie came to say hello on Saturday and she had the most gorgeous button fairy on her bag, the big button is to try and make my own. (Julie I have googled button fairy!!)

    I love stitching with superior threads, especially the King Tut variegated range. These six just jumped right off the stand into my arms!!

    I saw a woolly stand on Thursday with patterns for slippers which you knit and then felt in the washing machine. I stayed strong until Sunday lunchtime when I gave in and rushed off to get these

    I got them from Knitting4 fun , they seem quite easy to knit although I am going to be disciplined and finish some socks first. I have never seen this company before but they were lovely ladies and very helpful. I'll definitely be visiting them again.

    Apart from some basic like rotary cutter blades and sewing machine needles that's all I got. At the veyr end end of the show whilst everyone was waiting for their quilts in the cafe area, Dawn Cameron Dick and some others were giving out some free Mettler threads. I am sure they came from Quilt Direct which I though was very generous. Finally at 6.30pm my zebra quilt was returned and the journey home could begin.

    Monday, 24 August 2009

    Festival of Quilts 2009

    I know there will be lots of posts about Festival of Quilts 2009 at the moment but I thought I'd share my memories. This was the quilt I entered in the art quilt section. The idea was to make something that was quite simple up close with the design becoming clearer from a distance. It took longer to design and draw out the zebras than to do the actual stitching. The one below was entered by my son and I can honestly say that I feel very proud that every stitch was done by him. It was called "Postcards from the Orient"

    After teaching/helping over the whole four days I've had a croaky throat today and been incredibly tired. The children's workshop area was constantly busy and we even had a full workshop on Sunday afternoon. The children worked so hard within each two hour session to complete a project. I do have lots of photos of quilts but haven't had time to go through them yet. One advantage of working so hard was that I could get into the show at 8am each day, both to help set up and view the quilts.

    I did manage to escape sometimes and have a look round. There were stunning quilts by Ferret, Sheena Norquay and many many others as well as all the competition quilts, but something that stuck in my mind was the restfulness and calm of the quilts by Ingrid Press, this is what Twistedthread wrote about her

    "Ingrid works with cloth (which is often re-cycled) and fibre. She likes to arrange things - mainly in rows and grids. She sees beauty in repetition. Texture is also important and is achieved through dense machine stitching of the quilts and through the materials and weaving methods used when making her small vessels. Making things gives her a feeling of being connected to many generations of crafts people all over the world.She subscribes to 'Less is More' and tries to keep her work calm and rather simplistic, which is helped by the use of a limited colour palette."

    The children's workshop area was right next door to the virtual studio enabling me to keep popping my head round to see the wonderful fabric being created, and to indulge in some retail therapy!!

    Saturday, 15 August 2009

    Its been a while.................

    I have just looked when I last blogged and can't believe it was May. Well I have been busy and managed to accomplish quite a few things. I have even been domesticated and made lots of jam, you can check this out on my husband's blog . My nephew's quilt for his 21st birthday (which was in March) is still on the design wall. It has now been promised him for Christmas or failing that in time for his 30th birthday!!

    I've entered a quilt for Festival of Quilts (so has my son) which actually came together really easily. The designing and drawing took a long time but the stitching was completed in a relatively short time. Do you know the law according to Sod?? Well I normally don't have problems putting on a mitred binding but this time it didn't work and I didn't have time to take it off and do it again. After parceling both quilts up I spent an anxious 24 hours waiting to track the parcel after a not too helpful man at the post office took my hard work off me.

    I'm just going to share a small section of the quilt so if you do see it at FoQ please let me know what you think -

    I think this section looks a little obscure but you may be able to guess what it is of.

    On a totally different theme I have been trying to use up some recycled materials, I had saved a whole stack of those dye catcher sheets from the washing machine. Most are the same grey colour but I had one which was purple (it came out of the machine with a navy shirt).

    The stitching is loosely based on a photo I had of a field. I used some gold fabric paint in the top left to be sun rays and some white organza under that for a cloud. This followed the white area on the sheet which I think got folded in the machine. It was a quick little project which I enjoyed.

    Both my boys are away from home at the moment (one on Scout camp & the other staying at Granny's house) so hubby and I went exploring today. After a very nice pub meal with mouthwatering white chocolate profiteroles for desert (well you do have to force yourself to eat things sometimes) we ended up on a fantastic beach at Old Hunstanton watching the most amazing kite surfers. There must have been about 40 in the water at a time and how no wires got tangled was amazing. This photo just doesn't show how sunny it was. It was also windy and I gave up trying to stitch as the sand was getting everywhere. I got lots of design ideas though....

    Wednesday, 27 May 2009

    Free Bag patterns

    I have just been across to the Quilting Arts website (my favourite magazine) and noticed that they are offering a free ebook on bag making. All you have to do is register with the site, follow the clear instructions, and you get all of this as well:-

    -Access to their blogs, forums, videos, and free stuff in the members only section of the website.
    -A Quilting Arts Embellishments email newsletter filled with expert tips, techniques, and special offers

    The great thing is that they keep your e-mail safe and don't pass it on to other third parties!
    Bag making here I come so watch this space.

    Tuesday, 26 May 2009

    Home alone..........

    For the past few nights I have been enjoying peace with the rest of the family visiting relatives in Liverpool. I have just had the call to say they are only an hour away hence this quick blog. I have done lots of stitching over the weekend but as yet haven't taken any photos. Instead I thought I would share the table runner I made for my mum's birthday, it is machine pieced with needle turn applique in the centre. The one below is obviously a Christmas one, this had painted lutradur appliqued pieces which seems to have survived the washing process.

    The design is very simple and quick to stitch up, the only real tricky part is attaching the binding on the internal corners.

    I have managed somehow to process onto the next module of my City & Guilds patchwork and quilting diploma, this is a distance learning course but with wonderful and supportive tutors. I am now planning my miniature quilt design but have never made anything miniature before. Anyone any tips??

    Sunday, 17 May 2009

    How time flies.................

    Despite my best intentions to blog regularly, real life seems to be getting in the way. Last Saturday was spent teaching at the Quilt Musuem in York. There was a group of seven children who made book covers in the morning and CD holders in the afternoon. Below is a picture of two of the book covers but I didn't get any of the CD holders. For the first time ever I forgot to recharge the batteries for my camera!!

    The children really enjoyed a treasure hunt round the gallery following clues to look for "treasure". It was great as to solve clues they had to really look at quilts and notice lots of detail. There are currently two exhibitions at the musuem, the main one 'Pearls, Pearls, Pearls' celebrates the 30th anniversary of The Quilters' Guild of the British Isles. I was impressed with the range of work shown, and was particularly drawn to a shibori quilted jacket by Di Goodison. In the smaller gallery was The Wholecloth Tradition which explores the techniques, history and motifs used in wholecloth quilting, concentrating on the North Country wholecloth style. On display were several pieces of Amy Emms' work, including a small case of her tools and some smaller pieces. If you go to visit look at the quilt hanging on the wall by the bed. It was made by Amy Emms having been commissioned by The Quilters Guild, if you look closely it has a whole section of the quilting design that has been missed out, still beautiful stitching though.

    On a more down to earth note I have finished quilting my shibori, it just needs binding, hopefully a picture will appear later this week I also made this book cover in a loosely convergence quilt style technique -

    My quilt group has what is called a silent auction tomorrow evening. Basically people bring items they no longer want and an empty envelope is placed by them. If you want to bid you just write a price on small paper, putting it inside, the top bid them wins the item. Normally I manage to come away with some interesting threads, fabrics so I let you know of any success.....

    Sunday, 3 May 2009

    Patter of tiny feet

    Yesterday we had the tiny patter of newborn feet. Mum is a bit photo shy and protective of her babies. One girl (back) and one boy (front).

    Friday, 1 May 2009

    May Day

    My day job is as a supply teacher and this past two weeks has been manic, I had forgotten what it is like to work each day. I had also forgotten what 29 four year olds can be like! Normally I wouldn't expect work the first week of term so I got lots of fabric from Doughtys to dye, its still sitting in the bag!! I am back to the same school this week and off to the farm on Thursday with them. I have promised DH that I won't return with anything living!! We have got quite a menagerie including cats, chickens, rats (of the pet type), goldfish and goats so really don't need any thing else.

    I have however managed to do some stitching on my shibori sample,

    Its not too easy to see on this photo but I am hand stitching in a spiral shape. Its a mix of machine and hand. I haven't done any hand stitching for a few months so I am a little rusty. Most of my stitching this week has been name labels on everything from socks to sweatshirts as DS is on Scout camp from tonight. The labels won't stop him losing things, they just make sure things get returned.

    I have also done some machine quilting on the dragon quilt, just a few blocks to go now...

    I thought I'd also just share this picture of Simba, falling asleep during his piano practise!

    I'm just about to watch PS I love you so hope its not too weepy so I can continue stitching...........