Thursday, 29 September 2011

WIP Wednesday No. 7

I'm having a very productive week so far. Tiring but productive. By the end of the week I need to have made 3 stuffed toys, a tea cosy and finished up my block swap blocks. I've given myself a strict timetable and, so far, I've managed to stick to it.

This evening's progress

One completed goose


a redesigned heffalump

Block swap
It didn't occur to me that 25 blocks is actually equivalent to making a whole quilt. I'm slowly getting through the piecing in between other jobs. So far I have 108 pointy house shaped things, 108 HSTs and 108 plain 2.5" squares. I just need to dog ear 108 rectangles then I'm ready to put them together.

The blocks are supposed to be in the mail by 20th October but I want to get them posted ASAP because they always take so long to get to the US.

Time to sleep, work in the morning (I still like the sound of that, I wonder when that will wear off.

Why not pop over to Freshly pieced to see what everyone else is up to this Wednesday.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Progress Report

Day 2 of my self-imposed timetable and I'm still on track. Here's the proof:

108 half square triangles


A new pile of stuffed animal parts.

I sometimes think my desk looks like a kind of stuffed animal abattoir with bits of elephant, goose and fish spread all over it. I need to come up with a storage solution. I tried pinning them up but that just looked mean!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Jobs are like buses....

... you wait 3 months for one and then three come along at once.

I'm struggling to get anywhere near my computer at the moment. My 4 days a week at work have turned into 6 days, the owner of my LQS is really pushing me for tea cosy patterns and my big sister thought she would help me out by taking orders for stuffed animals and tea cosies from the girls she works with.

Add to that my general lack of organisation and you end up with a scene like the one below (you may have to click on it to get the full force of the chaos)

Is there any wonder I can't get online to blog? A plan is needed and I figure if I write it down here then I'll have to follow through. So bear with me and I promise I'll post every day to prove that I'm on track.

Planned timetable
  • This evening: finish assembling random stuffed animal parts into a fully formed sheep
  • Tomorrow evening: press and trim 108 HST and start making a goose
  • Wednesday evening: finish constructing the goose and redesign tea cosy shape
  • Thursday evening: knitting club! Finish tea cosy shell
  • Friday evening: get drunk and fall over (Maria's birthday)
  • Saturday: nurse hangover, line tea cosy. make an elephant.
  • Sunday: finish quilting Strawberry Patch
It looks like I'm in for a busy week but I've made a start. Here's a picture of the finished sheep:

One animal down, two to go. Hopefully by next Monday I'll feel a lot less swamped.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Adventures in Long Arm Quilting

I've had my first two days working at The Fat Quarters, learning how to use the Gammill. Unfortunately I have a stinking cold and the machine is in the basement which is quite chilly but the excitement is enough to keep me going.

Here's my new workstation. The other slight drawback is that my head actually touches the ceiling when I stand upright but, again, every cloud... my thighs are getting toned with the slight squat I have to do!

Yesterday I loaded on some calico, learned how to use the controls and practised, practised, practised. I'm very pleased with my progress. Here's my first pass on the pantograph - it looks like it's been pixelated!

And here's my last pass - much smoother, not bad for a couple of hours work.

Today I loaded and quilted one of the shop samples (a little slowly because my head cold meant I had to take a lot of breaks). Tomorrow I'm quilting one of my mum's tops that's been sitting at the shop for over 2 years waiting to be quilted and, if that goes well, I'll be let loose on paying customers' quilts!

Monday, 19 September 2011

What came first? The fabric or the design?

When designing quilts I've tried it both ways. For the Hidden Wells quilts I drew up the design and then went shopping for the fabrics. For my Bear Paw quilts I bought jelly rolls and then figured out the design as I went along.

However, every now and then I buy fabric for no other reason than I love it and it's on sale (do you need a better reason?).

I bought this "It's a Hoot" jelly roll because it was the Daily Deal over at The Missouri Star Quilt Co. I've had it since November and I just can't decide what to do with it.

I started by drawing up this mixture of 9-patch and fence rails.

It's fun, but to my eyes it's a little too busy. Then I tried a friendship braid, mixing in a little bit of a white jelly roll that I also have lying around.

I have a Creative grids ruler that makes it really easy to cut the wedges but I'm just not happy with it. So I tried again with a very basic stacked coins design.

I think we have a winner! Sometimes simple is the way to go. As an added bonus, it should be super easy to piece together!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

WIP Wednesday No. 6

Here's a quick update before I hop into bed for a good night's sleep because it's my first day at Woolaballoo tomorrow!

Completed projects
I made these sweet little draw-string bags for my three nieces. They each have a little animal on the front that match the stuffed toys I made them along with their initials. They also have gorgeous floral linings but I forgot to photograph those - sorry!

Heffalump is all done and gorgeously, huggably cute. I think he's got a really smiley face.

I found some cotton yarn that was exactly the same colour as his ears. A quick plait and he has a beautiful tail.

Only a single lonely block this week but I think it's my favourite so far.

Something about that lime green and aqua together really makes me smile. It kind of reminds me of a sunny holiday somewhere.

Block swap
I went to my LQS this today for an afternoon of sewing with my mum. I did promise myself to stick to the sale rack but these Whimsy prints were calling out to me.

I decided on the Weathervane block (see yesterday's post for the other options) and set about making a test block.

Amazingly my maths was right first time so, when I came home, I had a marathon slicing session. I have all the pieces ready to go for the other blocks. Next step: draw diagonal lines on 168 squares - definitely a sitting in front of the telly job!

Other Projects

  • Strawberry Patch - Quilted around a couple more blocks. I've set myself the target of finishing all the echo quilting by the weekend so I can concentrate on the motifs.
  • Neutral jelly roll bear paws, It's a hoot, Frosted window panes and Antique quilt - No progress. 

Why not pop over to Freshly pieced to see what everyone else is up to this Wednesday.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Block swap dilemma

I signed up to the latest block swap over at the Missouri Star Quilt Forum. The idea is to make your favourite block using any floral fabric as a focus. I don't really have a favourite block so I dug out the book I bought at the Festival of Quilts thinking that I would choose one from there:

I don't know how anyone can pick from 5500 blocks. It's virtually impossible! I ended up riffling the pages, closing my eyes and pointing at random blocks. After ignoring the ones that looked way too difficult, the plain bizarre (really? A swastika block? Is that absolutely necessary?) I narrowed it down to four.

 1) Annie's Choice   2) Flying Dutchman

3) Japanese Lantern   4) Weathervane

I think I'm erring towards the Japanese lantern. My LQS has some lovely Japanese fabrics. I think that if I choose some jewel colours with a dark background, they will look like they're really glowing. But then I think the weathervane would look lovely also.

What do you think?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

WIP Wednesday No. 5

Well I've drilled, painted, weeded and planted until all my jobs are done around the house and, since I now have a job lined up, I no longer need to spend hours every day filling in application forms which means much more sewing time coming up! So not much progress this week but I expect leaps forward in the next fortnight.

Tea cosies
Fishy Fish Fish mark 2 is all finished up. The new version is on the left with his clone on the right. I made the scales much larger which made it quicker and easier to assemble.

I think the larger scales are still effective so they'll be making it to the final pattern. I'm not so sure about the polka dot eye though. So say goodbye to him because he's going to be put to one side for a bit while I work on the rest of the menagerie.

Next up is Heffalump. I couldn't resist using the French General blues for him which means he's a lot more subdued than Fishy but cute in his own adorable way. His sections are all cut out and ready to assemble.

To add the 3D element he's going to have flappy ears and a dangly tail.

New projects
I was just saying yesterday that I couldn't think about quilts because I couldn't afford any new fabric but - TA DA! - the quilting fairy (AKA my lovely mother) brought me these gorgeous Cath Kidston fat quarters home from her shopping spree.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them but I'm going to have fun playing.

Big sister has also commissioned me to make 3 drawstring bags for the little nieces so I need to get my head around those this week.

Other Projects
  • Neutral jelly roll bear paws - Going to be my "practice" quilt when I start learning on the Gammill soon
  • Strawberry Patch - Slowly quilting around the blocks. Check the side bar for progress.
  • Frosted window panes - I have found the pattern and it's hanging above my desk where  can't lose it again. Can't wait to get started:

Why not pop over to Freshly pieced to see what everyone else is up to this Wednesday.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Horses, elephants and an upcoming give-away!

I wish I had more to show you but I've been so busy this past week. On Monday I went to see my friend, Tamara, compete at a  dressage competition. I'm terrified of horses so this was a big step for me but I did get to drive the horse box home which was super fun.

The rest of the week was spent painting the kitchen, weeding the garden, erecting curtain poles and attending interviews. I thought I would get all the little jobs done before I started work next week so that mum doesn't have to worry. I also learned to knit!

I call it my scarf of many stitches. I don't think it's bad for a first attempt. There are a couple of holes at the beginning but I'm mostly hole free now.

In sewing land, I finished off my sketch for the elephant tea cosy and I think he's going to be very cute. I'm trying not to think about quilts until I can afford to buy fabric but it's very difficult.

I spent opening day in Woolaballoo getting used to the shop and learning how to use the till. It was fun, the            shop is really welcoming and the customers were lovely. However, I couldn't resist running next door to buy some fabric for heffalump there. I figured I deserved a metre of fabric for working so hard.

I went with French General and got half a metre of the Faded Denim solid from the La Petite Ecole range for the background and half a metre of the Rural Jardin Blue Clair Woven for the elephant. Let's see how he turns out...

This is my 98th post! I've set myself a deadline of my 100th post to finish up some of my patterns to give away to some lucky winners so check back later in the week to be in with a chance of winning some fabulous prizes.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A plan... finally

Apologies for the long, wordy post. I promise I'll be back to normal for the next one.

When I was 10 I decided I wanted to be a structural engineer (this might seem young but I grew up with A LOT of Lego). This past year I was attempting my final year of an Engineering degree at Durham University but, unfortunately, I was unable to sit my final exams in May due to a recurring health problem. At the end of June I found out that I would not be able to resit my exams and so would have to leave without a complete degree.

Two days after I got this news, my partner of 9 years left me because he saw no future in our relationship without my degree. Having lost the two defining things in my life I have, probably understandably, been feeling a little adrift. To top it all off, the last two months of job hunting have resulted in many replies of either "I'm sorry you're not qualified to be an engineer" or "I'm sorry you're over qualified to be a receptionist/administrator/shop assistant/client services person/data inputter/call centre phone answerer".... Poop.

Kym and Lucy to the rescue! Kym is the owner of my LQS, The Fat Quarters, and Lucy is the owner of Woolaballoo, a local knitting and yarn shop. Woolaballoo used to be situated in Crawcrook, just along the road from where I live, and my sister and mother used to go there regularly on a Thursday evening for "Stitch and Bitch" (knitting and gossip) session.

Inside The Fat Quarters

The shop in Crawcrook closed down a year ago because the rent was too high but it is reopening right, slap bang, next door to The Fat Quarters in Blackhall Mill. Kym and Lucy have made me an offer I can't refuse; from next week I will be working 2 days a week in Woolaballoo, while Lucy is away doing trade shows, and 3 or 4 days in The Fat Quarters, learning and operating the Gammill long-arm quilt machine. How exciting is that!

Inside the new Woolablloo - click on the picture to go to Lucy's facebook page and see more pictures of the new shop

The best thing about the arrangement is that neither shop is open on a Monday so, after I save up some money, I may be able to squeeze in some modules and finish my degree via The Open University. The scariest thing is that I have never knitted in my life! I'm going along to "Stitch and Bitch" tonight with a ball of wool so hopefully I'll be a fast learner.

If you are around in the Newcastle/County Durham area this weekend, pop into Woolaballoo for the grand opening on Saturday. There's 10% off everything all day and if you bring a friend you'll be entered in a prize draw.

WIP Wednesday No. 4

There hasn't been much sewing going on this week but there has been some major decision making. Sewing first:

Tea cosies
Fishy Fish Fish mark 2 (really need to think of a better name) is almost done. I'm just finishing hand sewing the binding on the front.

There are a couple of differences from the first Fishy Fish Fish:
  • The scales are 1 1/2 times the size, which means it no longer takes 90+ scales to make him up. Definitely an improvement.
  • I fussy cut a large polka dot for his eye. 
  • The lining is fitted inside and then a binding sewn around the bottom. The original version had the lining folded around the outside. The new version is much neater but was very fussy to do so I'm not sure which version to go for in the final pattern.
I've also started my monkey tea cosy and drawn up a new design for an elephant. This was a request from big sister who is absolutely elephant addicted.

Only two hexies this week; a blue and green spot and a magenta pink stripe.

Other projects
  • Neutral jelly roll bear paws - Still waiting to be basted and quilted (come back tomorrow for exciting news about this) 
  • It's a hoot - Finally made a decision (I think) to make a friendship braid
  • Strawberry Patch - Slowly quilting around the blocks. Check the side bar for progress.
  • Frosted window panes - It's a mystery where that pattern has gone!
  • Antique quilt - No progress at all

Jill - a work in progress?
Pop back tomorrow to hear about some big decisions and some exciting news.

Why not pop over to Freshly pieced to see what everyone else is up to this Wednesday?