Monday, 15 September 2014

A Little Scrap Busting

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We are having the most gorgeous September imaginable far! So a lot of my time has been spent enjoying the sunshine, taking in the subtle changes to autumn colours and making a mental note to treasure these days. These will be the memories to get me through the dark, dreary days of winter. And of course, I've been harvesting. Every day I think I've picked the bulk of the tomatoes and by the next morning there are plenty more saying "I'm ripe. Pick me!" They are mainly being roasted along with onions, garlic and basil and then pureed down into a sort of passata, before being frozen in varying sized portions. They will be used on pizza bases, in pasta sauces and salsas in the coming months. The cucumbers have finished, but courgettes are still going strong and peppers and squashes are just about ready, so sewing and knitting has been mainly an evening activity, but I do have a few small finishes to share.
First up, some scrap busting for a good cause - 2 zippered pouches for a Leukaemia Research coffee morning later in the year.
The navy one is my favourite, and it used up the tiniest of jelly roll scraps.

The back is different to the front. It was made with the quilt as you go method. I even joined some really small pieces of wadding together with iron on tape to get a piece big enough for this pouch, so it really is a true scrapbuster!
I've also been using up some really "What on earth was I thinking!" fabric. I've been buying organic fabrics since they first hit the quilting market a fair few years ago. But designs were limited then and my thirst for organic fabric was great, so I didn't always make good choices.
Actually apart from being rather bright, (you probably need to pop on your sunglasses before viewing the next two photos!) I'm quite pleasantly surprised at how good these fabrics look once they're sewn up.

This one is made entirely from that impulse organic buy all those years ago, and there's enough of the bright pink solid to make an entire wardrobe full of dresses! This will fit a 4 -5 yr old and is the pattern is New Look 6796. It is destined for Greenfields Africa. I'm quite sure the little girl's Mum won't care how bright it is!

This is another fabric that looks a lot better sewn up than it did folded neatly buried in my stash.
It's not organic. I bought it in a January sale several years ago and it was ridiculously cheap, so I feel good now its made into something useful. The pattern is New Look 6718. I made the large baby size and added a fair bit to the length so I think it should a fit a 2 yr old or  thereabouts and again is destined for Greenfields Africa.
All in all, it's been a good week :-)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A Truly Handcrafted Wedding

You may be forgiven for believing that I had dropped off the planet, but in truth, I have just been having a wonderful time with my family. 
Now though, my son's wedding is over, the family over from Canada have returned home and it is time to reflect and smile at all the wonderful things we achieved and enjoyed together.
This was always going to be a handcrafted wedding, but I think they truly surpassed all expectations.
My main jobs were to make the bunting, the table runners and part of the wedding cake.

You can see the table runners here. They were fringed hessian with lace sewn along the middle. Quick and easy (and messy!) to make. 
I hope you've also spotted the bunting - that was really fun to make, and it will be kept to bring out at family events in the future.
Mike & Laura made the table numbers and the favours (potted succulents for the girls, homemade chilli sauce for the boys).

They also painted directional signs to the venue and with the remaining wood made wonderful hand painted quotes like this one to dot around the reception area

It was a barn wedding and this wonderful room is where the ceremony was held.

It was the perfect size for the number of guests (and yes, that's me at the front!)

It was the small touches that made this day so special.......the photo gallery to include our loved ones who had passed way too soon.

And the handmade cones of real petals for confetti.

Laura is a silversmith who graduated from the prestigious Birmingham University Jewellery School and she made personalised cufflinks for all the groomsmen.

and a necklace and earrings for all the bridesmaids and both Mums. This is mine. The stone is citrine to match the lemon in my outfit.

But the most talked about item was definitely the cake.

Two of the layers were an un-iced traditional fruit cake made by Laura's Mum which was always a regular cake in Laura's household. The other two were Rice Krispie cake, made by me, which was always what my boys had as their birthday cake. The making of this caused a little angst. My previous  Rice Krispie cakes were never the same twice! Sometimes they crumbled on your plate, sometimes you needed a pick axe to get into them! This time it not only had to be edible, but the lowest tier had to support three other cakes! Were still weren't sure it was going to work until the day came to put to together. Thankfully it held up and was a big hit. Laura crocheted the hearts and added the explanation notes as to why they had this cake. Do you see the cake topper?

Laura made this too! They are wooden pegs that she has painted and dressed. Mike has a suit made from felt, with the correct colour tie. Laura's dress is scraps that I had left over from making the table runners, and who is that at the front? Why, it's their little Jack Russell, Bruce! complete with his favourite red ball. No wonder this was such a talking point at the reception!

So the event that we planned and busily crafted for the best part of the last 8 months is now over. It was a wonderful day, a day to treasure and smile about. Whilst they were on honeymoon I've had my family from Canada here and we've busied ourselves with day trips and long walks, enjoying the English summer........more memories to treasure.

Now it's time to think forward again, and with a little excitement, too.  I'll have time to get back to my knitting and quilt making, and plans for new projects are starting to take shape. Just as it's almost time for a new term for school children, I feel like it's new term for me too. Although I dislike the longer hours of darkness that autumn brings, it does mean more time for quiet crafts, and hopefully for blogging, too!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Not My Usual Sewing

The lovely sunny weather we have been enjoying has meant I don't want to spend too much time in my sewing room. My current knitting project is big so I haven't wanted to do that either. The solution? English Paper Piecing whilst sitting in my favourite chair in my most favourite spot in the garden!
These are 1" diamonds and they're all organic cotton.This is a slow project, I'm talking years here, not months, and I'm just making it up as I go along. When I've made a few of these, I'll switch to a different shape. I've no idea how big this will get. I may be in my dotage before it becomes something useful, but for now I'm enjoying a few minutes each day sitting in the garden english paper piecing!

I've also been making table runners for my youngest son's fast approaching wedding. Working with hessian is interesting. I LOVE the smell of it, but Oh how it sheds fibres! They were everywhere - the floor, the work surfaces, my cup of tea, even my underwear!!

These are my blocks for this month's Siblings Together Bee. This was a great block to make - quick and fun and all made from scraps!

This is the sewing that has taken most of my time over the past few weeks, but is not the most exciting thing to photograph!
It is a set of organic cotton bed linen for my eldest son and daughter in law in Canada. I've made a fitted bottom sheet, a flat top sheet, a duvet cover and four pillow cases and edged them with one of the decorative stitches on my machine.
These were very easy to sew and ended up costing about half the price of bought ones. The hardest part was manoeuvring a very large amount of very wide fabric and cutting it up.
The fabric is cotton percale from the  Organic Textile Company

And finally, I've been helping my soon to be daughter in law make a dress to take on honeymoon, but I suspect that either this will not get finished, or we are going to have one almighty panic sewing session in about 2 weeks time!! This is the stage it has been at for quite some time. It is very pretty fabric and it's going to really suit her. We just need to find the time to get together and finish it !

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Happy Sewing

Sewing bunting is the best sewing I know. I love it!!
All that colour, those nice easy straight seams, the joining it together into long strips, and the knowing its for a happy occasion. Bunting is always for happy times, and this is for my son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law's wedding in just a few week's time. Eek! did I say a few weeks time! There is so much sewing needs doing!
So I've been cutting...

and sewing.....

and sewing some more....

Saffie kept a very close eye on the proceedings....

The stack got higher...........

I added some solids........

Then played around with the placement........

Then joined them into lengths using rolls of ready made bias binding.

And finally took them outside to have a little peek at what they're going to look like hanging in all their colourful beauty!

A total of 6 lengths, 15 pennants in each. Such a happy sewing day!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Big Reveal

What an exciting weekend I had !
Just over a year ago Maria invited me to join a quilting bee.
We each made one strip of a quilt and then posted it onto the next person, who added a strip and so on until everyone had contributed to every quilt.
We agreed to not post photos of the quilt as it progressed, but instead we sent a journal along with the quilt and everyone wrote about the blocks they added and included photos of the progress in the journal.
We decided it would be a lovely idea to all meet up to give the completed quilt tops back to their owners and Jen very kindly offered to host it for us.
We were blessed with a wonderful sunny day and were able to take our quilts into her garden for the Big Reveal.

This is Sarah opening hers.

Next it was Amy's turn.

Then me !! I think you can tell by the ear to ear grin on my face just how pleased I was with this!
I started it off with the  third row down. Just look at all the different blocks the others added. There are cotton spools, baskets, pinwheels, 16 patches and stars. Some people even used organic cotton as they know I like it so much !
Thank you dear friends !!

Jen our wonderful host, had said in her journal that she liked pink and purple, so we took her at her word and made the brightest quilt imaginable. I think she likes it, don't you?

Maria our Queen Bee was next up. I love her quilt so much. She started it off with the row of houses and I'm definitely going to be making some houses since seeing them. I made the birds on the top row. I actually blogged about them here. I just didn't let on what they were for!

Finally it was the turn of Fran. I don't know how she managed to wait her turn!!

So, six wonderful quilts filled Jen's washing line and we all clicked away excitedly with our cameras.

I am so grateful to Maria for inviting me to join this Bee. It was wonderful to finally meet everyone, and so kind of Jen to host it for us. We had so much to talk about and the time passed so quickly, but at least now, whenever I look at my quilt, I can remember the people I met and our day together.

We sometimes have a tendency to over concentrate on the design, or the fabric choice or the skill when making a quilt, but really they are the sum of their parts and much, much more. They are the thought and kindness that went into making them. They are the comfort and pleasure they give to their recipient. They are a little piece of history.
My quilt and it's  journal will be certainly be treasured, along with the friends I've made along the way.

PS I hope my Bee friends are OK with me posting these photos of you. If not, just let me know and I'll take them down :-)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

My Life in Lists

Life is fun filled and action packed at the moment and I have a lot of very enjoyable projects that I'm mid-way through, or committed to in the near future. Trying to prioritise which to do when could be quite a headache, but I want to enjoy all these projects so I resort to writing myself lists.

I have lists for the garden jobs, lists for the household chores and a lovely long list for the crafting projects.
Love them or hate them, lists certainly do keep you focussed and I love being able to cross off an item or two at the end of the day (or week!)
I'm quilting a king size quilt for a friend at the moment. It's a lot of work. To make sure I don't fall out of love with this I need to quilt it in small doses, so it stays on the list, and I just do a little a day.

I've also been working on a new knitting pattern, but just for the time being I need to put this on the back burner whilst I get more pressing things done. It stays on the list though, so it doesn't get forgotten. It's a good thing to do when I sit down in the evening.

The charity sewing isn't needed until October, so nothing to show yet, but it's on the list so that I start to plan in my head what I'm going to make.

The most urgent projects on the list are the ones for my son and his fiancee's wedding, which is in August. Aah! just a matter of weeks away!
I have hessian table runners with lace trim to make. No pictures to share yet, I'm afraid.
I also have six lengths of wedding bunting to make.
Laura has chosen the fabrics from my copious stash - well, why go shopping when your soon-to-be mother-in-law has a whole room full of fabric!
I've got as far as cutting out the pennants and ordering the bias tape. I've had to buy it  by the roll!!

She's chosen some gorgeous prints and this is going to be the most fun project ever.

I also have to help her make a dress for her honeymoon (Oops! forgot to put that on the list!)

It's going to be very pretty and it will suit her so well, but this is not, in my opinion, a beginner pattern as it says on the front. We've had to do quite a lot of alteration and I've ended up completely re-drafting the armhole.
Just in case you couldn't guess, my favourite project on the list is the bunting!

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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Back home !!

I'm back home and as the rain continues to pour down outside on this June evening here in the UK, the lovely few weeks I have just spent in Toronto are all but a very fond memory.
Just a matter of days ago I was walking along the harbour front admiring this iconic view in temperatures of 29 degrees!
I have been so many times now that I don't do the usual touristy things, but I always make time to visit this wonderful place - the Art Gallery of Toronto

I particularly like viewing the Henry Moore sculptures and this year there was a special exhibition of his work. And that unusual looking addition to the building on the right hand side?
This is what it looks like from the inside.

An amazing piece of architecture and a wonderful place to sit and enjoy a cup of tea, surrounded by all that warm and textural wood.

I also went to the Textile Museum of Canada - a very small but well presented museum, where the very first exhibit I laid eyes on was this huge Sashiko quilt.

Here is a close up of a few of the blocks.

I have never tried Sashiko embroidery, but seeing this certainly made me think that I might give it a go some time in the future - not on this scale though !!

One of my priorities was to pay a visit  my favourite park, High Park, and in particular the beaver dams that are always there. See what they have done to this tree?

A few more nibbles and it will come crashing down I'm sure!

Food featured highly on my agenda too, and I sampled a great many world cuisines from Vietnamese to Mexican.
A first for me though was these Canadian fiddleheads.

They are always in season when I go in May, but I've never eaten them before. They are young ferns before the fronds have unravelled. We had to research how to cook them, as they are poisonous if not cooked properly. They did take quite a bit of preparing, but it was worth the effort, they were delicious!

Of course no trip would be complete without a visit to the yarn and fabric stores on Queen Street West (well, more than one trip actually) but I was very restrained in my purchases.
Romni Wools is in the heart of this fabric district and is a knitters, crocheters or weavers dream. It is HUGE!! So huge in fact that I had to take a break part way through my visit, go and have lunch and then return when I had had time to process all that I had seen and coveted. I was like a kid in a candy shop who just can't make up their mind! In the end my purchases were very modest - a book about top down knitted sweaters and some high quality needles. It's just so hard to know what to buy when you don't have a plan of what you want to knit!
My forays into the fabric shops were more productive however and I came away with some lovely aqua coloured raw silk with plans to make another dress for myself. I've never sewn silk before, but compared to prices in the UK, this was a real bargain. If it doesn't work out as well as I want it to, then it's not too costly a mistake.

So, back to the real world - rain, a garden where the slugs ate virtually every veg I planted before I went away, masses of sewing to do for the next family wedding of the year and a head filled with loads of plans for things I want to create in the next few weeks. Happy times :-)


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