Thursday 31 July 2014

I like big blocks...

… and I cannot lie.

A nice 24" Cotton & Steel twisty maples block…

Apologies for the vertigo-inducing photo!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Easy When You Know How...

It took me 6 months to get round to appliquéing on my Midnight At The Oasis flowers. Truth be told I was a bit worried that they would look shocking and that I just couldn't do it!

Amazing what a bit of Jen Kingwell inspiration can do!

So over the last week or so, snatching those quiet moments amongst the madness, I stitched.

Today we headed off for a big picnic in the park with a load of kids and mums from school, and I even stitched a bit more, and when we got home I was able to get the last flower on.

Ta da!

If you have forgotten what the rest of the quilt looks like, because I certainly had, here's how far I've got…

Tonight I will get my machine out, it's been getting a little jealous of all the hand-stitching.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Down On The Farm...

Today the sun came back, and we headed off to Fisher's Farm, courtesy of a Village Day tombola prize…

Smiles all round, and even time for a little Midnight At The Oasis.

Happy holidays xxx

Monday 28 July 2014

Everything is Awesome… eventually!

Big ol' thundery start to the day, so it goes without saying that means a power cut or 5!

The lights and clocks were off and on again all morning, and again after lunch, just when we thought it was a safe bet to watch The Lego Movie on DVD.  But hey ho, touch-wood we are all powered up for the evening.

The sun did come out for about an hour though, so there was time for a little appliqué in the garden before the heavens opened again…

If the weather forecast is to be believed, the kids and I will be out and about tomorrow, I may have to pop my hexies in the picnic bag though, to stop me going cold-turkey from my total hand-stitching addiction!

Sunday 27 July 2014

Mother, look away now!

It's my mum's birthday coming up, so I decided to convert my finished embroidery, from Jo-Bearpaw's FQR class into a little pouch.

The embroidery is on white Essex Linen, so I backed the panel with some fusible fleece, and then followed my pattern that you'll find in this month's Love Patchwork & Quilting.

I adjusted the pattern for the flat pouch to fit the size of my embroidery, and I am really rather pleased with how it turned out.

A bit more of that home dec on the back, and it's all good.

This was all made up before 9am, I couldn't sleep!

I also finished up some commission work today, which is always nice to get under my belt.  By my reckoning I only have two more stitchy 'commitments' to complete this summer holiday, and I am hoping to get one of those finished this evening, then it's all me me me!

Saturday 26 July 2014

A Little Beach Time...

Today we did the Hobbycraft-Asda thing, then went off to the beach for a picnic lunch, and for the small people at least, an impromptu swim in the sea…

It was noticeable cooler on the coast, so I am guessing there will be requests to head that way again soon, and next time with swimmers and a towel, as this time we were a little unprepared!

After the heat had gone out of the conservatory a little, it was time for some early evening experimenting!

I think these turned out OK for a first solo attempt; I didn't go crazy printing loads on fabric, it would have been easy to, but I restrained.

I didn't say there would be anywhere to eat breakfast though did I!?

Now time for a little appliqué, I am using, not losing those skills!

Friday 25 July 2014

Sofa so good...

I have been cracking on with my FQR finishes, which includes my hand-quilted cushion that I also presumptuously put on my FAL list…

After a couple of false starts and a little unpicking, I found my hand-quilting rhythm and stitch size, and then there was no stopping me!  I even flukily managed to maintain quite a decent backside, if I do say so myself!

I used a Hera marker to guide my stitching, and as one of many firsts on this cushion it, I was rather impressed that even with all the scrunching up the top got whilst quilting, I could still see where I was going.

I backed my cushion with some Clarke & Clarke home dec weight spots, put in a concealed zip and used some of my favourite Liberty Lifestyle print for binding, and I don't use that unless I am particularly chuffed with something!

I need something else to hand quilt now, honestly I am going to make things just so I can!  I have even pulled out my Midnight At The Oasis today, which has lain unloved for about 6 months, and got my appliqué action on at last.  I think that one certainly deserves the hand-quilting treatment.

So onto the rather over-crowded but oh-so-pretty sofa it has gone…

I should photograph the view from the sofa really, to assure you that I haven't covered the whole house!

Well the weather has cooled a little this evening, we managed about 45 minutes at the park earlier, before the thunder started, and made it home just before the rain.  Not sure what this weekend has in store, but I am guessing it won't be a patch on the fun and games of last weekend.

Thursday 24 July 2014

100% Summer!!!

Yep, the holidays have begun, work is over for 6 weeks, and although my 3 little darlings don't exactly make for relaxing times, (we had washed the car by 9am this morning!), I know where I would rather be!

So after the early start, I had time to stitch a skinny bit of single-fold binding onto my sample from Thomas K's knotting class before the conservatory got too hot, and then scored a finish in the garden this afternoon…

I think this little thing, (it finished at 12" square) is rather sweet, and I can really see the appeal of hand quilting a whole-cloth quilt (aark at me!!).

I have also turned my hand-quilting sample from Jen K's class into a cushion, as predicted in my FAL listing; and now I only have to finish the binding on that.

And to aid me in my hand stitching quest and counteract my inability to thread, nay see a needle after 8pm, we have supplemented the useless-for-sewing ambient lighting with a new task light…

I am so chuffed!

So if you need me after dark, I'll be hanging out under my new lamp!

Wednesday 23 July 2014

So Long Sunday...

Final diary instalment of my FQR weekend; thank you for keeping up!

So another early start, all packed up and checked out of the hotel, I was off for some doodling with Troods.

I am a graphic artist, in the broadest sense of the word; curvy doodles do not come easily to me with a pen, so I really have no hope FMQing…

… but it was a lovely way to start the day, and wonderful to see how easily it comes to Trudi, a total natural!

Then it was on to my final class.

To say I was looking forward to a real lesson with Mister Thomas Knauer is an understatement.  OK so we were quiz-buddies, and he did tell me that 'it was only bloody knots, how difficult can it be!?', but I was, and still am, fascinated by his ability to take a simple question or comment and talk and talk and talk!

I now need to read all the theorising in Modern Quilt Perspectives, because I can now hear his voice in my head, and that is way more entertaining than reading it 'flat'.

He is so clever.  The class was simple, and indeed only knots, but his tales of making babies, (not as icky as that sounds), quilts for his daughter and the evils of the large quilt collections and manufacturers were really interesting.

And then it was over!

The final farewell in the hall was interrupted by a fire alarm; I helped Jen (Kingwell, as if you hadn't guessed!), pack up her gorgeous quilts into her suitcase; they were not going to be left behind even if we got burnt to death in the process!  Decamped to the pavement outside, it was time for thanks, cheers and hugs goodbye.

Sadly it was all over.

I have had a total blast at the previous two Retreats, don't get me wrong, meeting some of my best friends for the first time, taking some great classes and generally having a brilliant time, but this Retreat was different.

Socially it was still wonderful, there was more time to actually speak to people, time to take stock and time to enjoy spending time with friends.  The smaller number of attendees worked so well, and I would loath a return to the jam-packed hustle and bustle of last year.

However this time the classes really wowed me!  I came out of each session full of ideas and excited for the next.  All my teachers were amazing.

I learnt so much over the course of the weekend, I didn't touch a sewing machine and I am glad.  I am so enthused to do more hand-piecing and to hand quilt, the joys of which a week ago, had just passed me by.  Oh, I was so missing out!

Then it was home, to unpacking and digesting everything that had gone on, as well as emptying the contents of my goody bag!

So many generous sponsors…

Soak, Moda, Koribond, Makower, Aurifil, Riley Blake, Dashwood Studios, Robert Kaufman and Janome - Thank you!

Another thank you, and apology because I should have added this to the Friday post, goes to Tsoniki for my name tag; I wore it all weekend, and home again…

Fat Quarterly Team, including Sandy and the Jacks, you totally nailed it, thank you so much for your hard work, talent and humour!  Please don't go changing!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Ready for Saturday?

Sooooo an early and rainy start, but by 9am I was installed in the main hall ready for screen printing with Karen.

OMG why have I not discovered the joys of printing before!?  I promise you I will be printing on anything that doesn't move this summer; I may even let the kids have a go!

I cut a little Carpenter-esk star for my template, and it actually worked, which I was having my doubts about at first.

Trash's pair got everywhere!
The 3 hours flew by, no doubt aided by the fun I was having next to Cindy, Nicky and Reene.

Karen was an awesome teacher, and everyone in the class came away with great printed fabric, bags and the like.  If you have followed the hashtag #FQR2014 in Instagram you will have seen loads of pictures, and everyone is smiling… or similar!

Pinched from Karen again!
Another top class that I cannot recommend highly enough.  I had to buy some scrap bags and Karen's beautiful book, it was the law!

On to lunch, I enjoyed an hour in the company of Jen Kingwell and Amanda; I probably spent an inordinate amount of the conversation just thinking 'I am having lunch with Jen Kingwell, behave!'

Then after a quick swap over of supplies I was in class again with Jen, this time for hand-piecing and appliqué using her Green Tea & Sweet Beans pattern (which we all got a copy of!!).

Again, wonderful relaxed teaching, Sonia and I settled on a sweet flower and petal block and may not have progressed very far in class, but that wasn't important, it was the being there that counted again.

Top tips abound; placing a sheet of sandpaper under your fabric to grip it when marking templates, who  knew!?

I will make the whole quilt one day.  I am planning on making a cushion from a few of the blocks for now, but I am so keen to get on with my Midnight At The Oasis again now Jen has worked her magic!

After class was the sample swap.  Hilariously Sarah, who one my blogiversary giveaway tote was in my group and now has another!!  I came home with these…

The little house is a lavender bag from Bettina, the purse from Cara and mug rug from Sarah.  I am a happy bunny!

Then onto the evening, are you keeping up!?

Market night first; I collected pre-ordered Cotton & Steel from the lovely ladies from The Village Haberdashery, and supplemented this with a yard more from The Eternal Maker…

I scored a Kona Colour Card from Cindy to add to my Fluffy Sheep pre-order…

A little bit of Oakshott…

Some little extras from Beyond Fabric…

Oh and then back to the Village Haberdashery for a little Far Far Away…

I couldn't go the evening without purchasing a pack of Jess's cards from Reene…

And after all that, there was the grand Siblings Together handover - the Jacks did a great job holding and folding…

Look at that pile!!!

So moving to see Delma taking these away for such a great cause.

Then Quiz night and pot-luck Bingo!!!

Winner winner, chicken dinner!  Go Team Butler, (named by Thomas Knauer's love and theory that all things come from Amy Butler), won the day; that's two years, two wins, just saying!!

℅ Sandy
I pulled Thomas into the team on the assumption that he knew everything; that was not strictly true, but good enough, and I laughed so hard, especially at the lateral thinking that guessing the names of the new Kona colours required; a yard of Sandstone anyone!!?

For my winnings and Bingo pick, I claimed a couple more Jen Kingwell patterns, including Gypsy Wife!!!  I am set up for the next 8 years I reckon!!

That little finger pin cushion up there was a present in the hand quilting class, but has ended up in this stalkerish collection!

So by then it was near 11pm, and I headed back to bed absolutely shattered in the best way!

Hope you have the stamina for Sunday!  See you tomorrow, (it'll be the last day of term and work - yippee!!!) xxx

Monday 21 July 2014

Let's start at the very beginning...

… a very good place to start.

I already know that I am going to have to break FQR2014 down into multiple posts, because I still haven't been able to get it all straight in my head; there was so much information to digest and ideas to ponder over, I don't want to forget anything.

So let's see how far I get!

Friday.  It started with a 4am thunderstorm and power cut, meaning all sorts of re-setting phone alarms and worrying about the lack of hot water and straighteners in the morning!  By 'wake up time' it was all good; and by 10am I was on the train, not quite sure what to expect.

I was checked into my hotel by midday, then strolled up in the ridiculous heat to BP House.

The welcome committee was in place, Lynne, Brioni, Tacha and Trash, plus the 2 Jacks; game on!  A quick hello with Tammy, Betty and a few others, and by the time we decided to escape the heat and decamp to the terrace, more and more lovely people were arriving and we headed on into the wonderfully air-conditioned hall.

I have to admit, when the FQly ladies began the Intro, I was wondering where everyone else was!  I don't know the exact numbers but compared to the manic squeeze at the beginning of the last couple of years, the hall was virtually empty.

I was so excited that I got to meet some of my long-time 'friends' for the first time, like Sarah-FairyfaceJoanne, and Blueberry Park Karen as well as old buddies like CindySonia, Sarah and Nicky and, of course, Brit Bee buds Troods and Di.  So many more, so forgive me if you haven't been name-checked, but if I am not careful this will be playing out in real time like 24!

First class, quilting with Jen Kingwell - A-MAZING!!!!

I absolutely love Jen Kingwell, and I don't care who knows it - I think I may have told her anyway!  Not only are her quilts the most beautiful things I have ever seen and touched, (oh there was lots of touching!), but she is the most engaging, interesting and down to earth funny lady I have ever had the pleasure of listening to!

I didn't stitch much, but, I was too busy having a wonderful time!

After an hour and a half, including a power cut, (pity the poor folks using sewing machines or in the windowless hall!), I had learned more than I have learnt years!  All mostly simple and 'obvious when you know', but still 'new to me' tips and tricks.  The real life Gipsy Wife and Green...Beans quilts are beyond stunning, I could gush for hours!!

Let's just say this short and intimate session, (I think there was only a dozen of us), set the tone for my weekend, and I didn't stop smiling!

My other class on Friday was embroidery with Jo-Bearpaw, more love!

I was not particularly good, there was some unpicking and a lot of squinting (oh my rubbish eyes!), but I learnt the wonders of the whip-backstitch and how not to do bullion knots!

I even stitched up a little more that night in bed, and have been slowly adding more since coming home; so hoping to have this one finished some time soon.

After classes, there was time for a trip to Waitrose, a freshen up and then off to dinner.

A typically raucous affair, so much laughing and chatting; I was next to Cindy and opposite Sarah, Jenny F-P, Love P&Q editor and Karen, and despite the heat, did I mention it was hot, we had a brilliant time.  Good food and good company, the perfect end to the day.

℅ Karen
Is that enough for now?

Saturday was huge, but I will try my best to cram that into the one post tomorrow.

I haven't even mentioned the goody-bag received on arrival, that will need another post all to itself!

Sunday 20 July 2014

I want to tell you EVERYTHING!!!

What a weekend!!  I want to tell you all about it so much.  It was the best, EVER!

I need to sort out my (few) photos, and get my head together, then I will pour it all out here, promise.

For now though, I need sleep, lots of sleep, and to finish unpacking, and maybe to think about work and school tomorrow.

I don't want to go back to reality just yet, dammit!

Saturday 19 July 2014

Better late than never...

Apologies for the bloggy silence, it was way too hot and way too much fun to think!

Photo stolen from Karen (Blueberry Park) from last night's fun and games.

Looking forward to today xxx

Thursday 17 July 2014

Hotting up...

Things are hotting up, both literally and metaphorically!

I did manage to spend a relaxing half hour in the sun between FQR packing and the KS2 performance of Bugsy Malone, which was really rather good, albeit boiling hot in the hall.

I have re-thunk my weekend attire more times than I can remember and trying to cram everything into the smallest, most manoeuvrable luggage has not been easy.

Still, almost done.

In amongst all the class supplies and outfits is my revamped Poolside Tote, already packed for tomorrow afternoon…

I swapped out the coral Sketch facing with some more or the Indigo Essex Linen, and I love it so much better...

So that's another FAL finish in old money!!!

I shall wish you all a happy weekend already - I will try to blog a few snaps via my iPad, but that isn't always successful, and as for Instagram, I am kind of hoping I will be too busy!