Friday, 5 January 2018

Thank crunchie it's Friday!

No chocolate crunchie bars on hand this Friday - I have to admit being all sugared out at this stage and looking forward to getting back to normal.  I did manage to sit at the sewing machine for a very small time this week and get my Home is Where the Dog Is quilt top finished! To be fair it was all done bar sewing the rows together.

So glad I got all the zig-zag done on the letters before the disk in my back came at me as that bit took ages!  Finishing it into a quilt now is going to have a wait a while as I have left a blank space on the first floor to add something special and have no idea whatsoever what that could be!  I do need to try and get on with a quilt and teaching samples I need for workshops I am teaching in February and March so I am happy to park it for a while, while I mull it over in my head!

Not being able to do to much at the sewing table means there is still lots of knitting going on!  Here's an update: Winter hat for Gordon - Done!  Pattern is A Hat Fit For a Fella by Shana Schasteen.

A sparkly Christmas cowl for mum - with her help!  I get bored with plain and purl and mum hates following a pattern so we share the workload sometimes.  Mum knits looser than I do so when gauge matters I give her a smaller needle.  This was her first time using metallic circular needles - my favourite - she didn't like them!

Still her finished cowl turned our lovely and perfectly matching Christmas decor.  This pattern is the Miss Marple Scarf free on Ravelry.

Chunky hat and shawl for me - done!  Hat is my own design using two a white and a pink ball of Tivoli super chunky wool.  The shawl pattern is Clouds in a Blue Sky by Andrea Rangel.  I added a bit of Swiss darning to it to tie in the edge yard to the brighter cream from my stash.  This technique was a lot of fun and I would definitely do this duplicate stitching technique again.

And if superchunky isn't fast enough I got a present of some Jumbo Merino wool for Christmas along with 25mm needles! 

I wanted to make a cushion for my cousin as a thank you present but the 1kg ball wasn't enough and the cable I attempted to add in ended up rock hard and messed up the width so I started again!  I found the needles hard to work with and had too tight a gauge to start with so loosened it well up on the second go.

This is how thick the jumbo yarn is and it is so soft!  Unspun, it is quite delicate and frogging it is not a good idea to do too regularly!  You can't wash it as it will felt but you can dry clean it.

 Second attempt went better with a simple pattern over 10 stitches!

 Yup only 10 stitches and I had the front of a cushion.  Now to figure out the back!

I had a bit left over to make a cowl for mum though - only 3 stitches and arm knitted and done in about 15 minutes!  Feels cheating to call this one a finish!  The arm knitting was much faster once I got the hang of the cast on!  She loves it and it is really soft and warm.

I am planning on arm knitting  with a bigger ball of 4-6kg acrylic yarn to make a blanket for the bed.  I normally buy the best wool I can as I think if you are going to take the time to knit up something might as well treat yourself to the best.  Acrylic is washable though and a good bit cheaper so while I would love a Merino wool blanket I think the Acrylic is the way to go for the moment.

Happy New Year everyone - hope 2018 is a good one and a cosy one to you all!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

One last finish!

I couldn't tell you where the month of December has gone! It has been an upsy downsy month with flu (the entire family!), bulging disk in my back, lots of birthdays and the mad Christmas dash that always seems to happen no matter how well I think I have everything in hand. 

I've been absent here and online as home life, work and getting the secret sewing done has taken over and I haven't had a minute to myself except for last week when the back gave out and I had no choice but to find a comfy spot on the sofa and read and knit and not try to do anything that required brain power!

Still, I got one last quilty make done.  You might remember this when it was just a flimsy?  I finished it for my Friend's new baby for her first Christmas!  As my friend reads the blog from time to time I didn't want to show too much but now it's been gifted I can share away! 

Indoor photos only as it was miserable weather before the Christmas!  Rained most of the day Christmas day too!  The quilting is inspired by Patsy Thompson's Craftsy Class called Ultimate Free Motion Quilting where she teaches a technique of layering quilt lines called Hyperquilting.  I have been wanting to try it our for ages so using 2 different colours of pink aurifil thread I managed to quilt in some butterflies and flowers. 

I had a lot of fun with this and a small throw quilt like this was a great size to try something new.  I'll definitely be doing this style of quilting again.  I love the texture it gives the quilt after its first wash.

I showed it unbound at our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society meeting in December and the ladies asked me what colour I was going to bind it in.  When I said a very pale blue there were some funny looks but I think it works really well.  The background fabric is Kona Smoke and I can't remember the pinks but think one might be Rose.  The off white is PFD bleached white.  I think the blue might be Sky.

I'm glad it worked out very like I imagined and am happy to have to have one last finish for 2017!  I know there are a few days yet to go but it's unlikely I'll get a quilt top basted and quilted by New Years, though I have a chance at finishing another knitted hat!  Made 3 this month so far and happily today the rain has stopped, it's turning frosty and I may get to wear one out walking the dogs!

That is if we can get them away from their new toy.  Well it's meant to be Maggie's toy but Charly has other ideas and it has been a constant battle between the two of them for ownership!  We've had to hide it twice, so far Charly has found it every time.  Can't fool a Jack Russell, a Basset on the other hand...

Hope everyone had a happy Christmas and wishing everyone a very happy New Year!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

WIP Wednesday - Still lots going on!

Keeping up a blog relies as much on habit as it does on making things to show but sometimes, the time it takes to write up a blog post, is lost to fun things like visiting family home for a month, secret sewing projects for new classes & workshops, designs for publication and guild work and the not so fun things like cleaning the house, reactions to the flu jab and ironing the clothes!

Having said all that, I feel the pull to the blog very strongly every now and again as the act of writing about WIP's and design ideas, things I've explored or learned and the desire to express that, gives me a sense of satisfaction and joy in sharing.  And there has been lots going on!

As Chairperson for the Irish Patchwork Society (IPS), there was the AGM where afterwards the guest speaker was Janice Gunner from the British Guild of Quilters.   We learned all about the different Japanese textiles made from Shibori techniques and got to see samples Janice had created (images above).  If anyone has or knows of some good books on Quilt History and Textiles I would be really interested in learning more - so far I have found very little in depth books that you could settle in by the fire and a strong cuppa tea and spend an hour or two devouring so suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

There are a pile of quilt tops and WIP's ready to be worked on, a new website for the IPS with lots of members only content planned and in progress, 4 new designs in various stages which will need pattern testing at some point and a pile of fabric waiting for cutting!

In the midst of writing about log cabins for the new IPS website I created these illustrations to show improv log cabins and now want to drop everything and make them so last weekend I uploaded the images to Playcrafts palette builder and bought a bucket load of solids from the Limerick Quilt Centre.  Thinking of a one block quilt in green for our brown leather sofa!  Nice and bright for the winter - should be cheery!

Another idea that came from the Elements of a Modern Quilt Class I am preparing for the IPS next March is this Triangle play quilt.  Really like the orange and blue with Kona Coal on this one so bought the fabric for that too, this time from Plush addict!

I had been without my large sewing machine for 3 months too as it was getting repaired - remember the bother I had with it for North South East & West?  Well turns out there was a teeny tiny spring gone in the bottom and we think that may have been catching the thread as I moved my hands in the 10 O'Clock position!

Lastly I have had this quilt on the design wall since August when we had to say goodbye to Wilbur and I just didn't feel like getting on with it.  Time is right now so I have two versions of Home is Where the Dog Is on the go.  I pieced in a day this minimalist one inspired by Wilbur's Kennel!  A finished Quilt top feels like progress.  Now to get on with the quilting!  I'm hoping to quilt the text in relief with straight line quilting around the shapes!

So much more to do....stay tuned...giveaway coming up this month too!

Linking up to Let's Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday and the Friday Finishes!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Ticker Tape Workshops

A few weeks ago I gave the Ticker Tape workshop I developed from my Wilbur scrap quilt to the Western Branch of the Irish Patchwork Society in Galway. This was my third time giving this workshop and I have been adding to the templates for people to try. I used the guitar as a teaching piece and am working on a sketch of a West Highland Terrier for one of the ladies in my own branch, the Mid-Western Branch in Limerick.

Not everyone has been lucky enough to have a Basset Hound in their house (?) so I have added in other shapes for people to try including cats, teddy bears and other breeds of dogs! For some reason, just like when making Wilbur, I got the head and body drawn up on the Westie no problem but struggled with the legs. I think I have his little feet right now and am making adjustments for the next class which is in a Quilt Shop in Tuam, Co. Galway called Quilt, Yarn, Stitch. Really looking forward to the 2nd December and teaching my first quilt shop class! Very exciting!

This is a photo of the progress made by Nora on the scrappy Teddy on the day in Galway and below is a photo I took of Olena's dragon she made from the workshop given to the Eastern branch of the IPS in Dublin. I had the honour of being mentioned in her artist's statement when she showed it at the River of Dreams quilt exhibition in Limerick this year.

That was a special exhibition as in addition to the bed quilts on display there was a wall of donated baby quilts for the Henry Bear charity where each child undergoing heart surgery gets a quilt to wrap them up in for their recovery.

 Mine was Kenny the Koala! And he ended up a pattern.  

It's funny where an idea for a quilt can take you and what can develop from it!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Modern Irish Bee!

One of the last activities for Modern Quilters Ireland is our Modern Irish Bee. This year, our group of 9 have been making big blocks for each other 18 ½" in size. There have been lots of half square triangle blocks which are fun to scale up to big sizes.

If you would like to find the instructions for any of these come visit our facebook group: Modern Irish Bee.

Suzanne gave us a free form option, to make a block with an Irish theme that she will put together for the festival of Quilts in Birmingham next year and she left the choice and content of the block up to us! Having had a conversation with Suzanne about books, and having seen the cutest paper pieced book block from Tall Tales on the Honey Pot Bee facebook group, I knew I wanted to use that in some way. After all one of the things Ireland is famous for is our writers like Yeats, Joyce and Beckett. So I though books would work quite well.

The other thing we are famous for is our wet weather! And with hurricane Ophelia just having passed through the weather is on the tip of everyones tongues.  (We lost our satellite dish so very lucky that was the worst that happened! Watching the TV on the laptop for the moment!)

Almost every casual conversation on a normal day starts with chat about the weather too and the hundreds of ways to describe a rainy day: bucketing down, pi**ing out of the heavens, lashing, soft, floggging it, spitting it, rotten, drowning out, fierce, pelting down, hammering down, torrential, weather for ducks, a day for the fire, no drying out today, wetting rain(?) and my favourite – someone left the tap on above in heaven.

With that in mind I decided to make weather themed books so I have a rainy winter, sunny summer, autumn leaves and the spring you might say is the bright green text border that ties it all together! Yes I might be taking a bit of artistic licence with it but isn't that half the fun! The paper pieced book block is quite titchy so to make something suitable for an 18" block I made 3, trimmed to 7" x 4 ½" and surrounded them with white background fabric and a 1.5" green border! If you want to make something similar yourself, download the book pattern from Jodi's Craftsy shop here. I think it's the perfect size for a cushion and would be great for a kids room for reading activities and I can imagine a pocket in the back for a book too! Might just have to make another one...

Friday, 8 September 2017

Modern Quilters Ireland Swap

This summer the Modern Quilters Ireland Group closed but there are two activities still ongoing for the rest of the year.  Our summer swap and Modern Irish Bee are the last makes and we are going out with a bang!  The swap item chosen for 2017 was the Goody Binding Kit by Leila's Boutique.  This was a really fun thing to make and not that difficult. 
Yes there is a zip but there is a video and some very clear explanations in the tutorial to make this bit a breeze!  There is a pocket for a scissors another larger pocket for patterns or EPP templates, holder for thread and the zippy pocket for loose bits and pieces. 
 My swap partner likes bright and modern so I made a scrappy plus cover from 1.5" squares from the scrap pile and some ribbon from Fat Quarter Shop.  Found some Tula Pink and managed to get it in!

In return Sandra@sewofcourse made this gorgeous kit for me - love the fox!
 And Bassets!  I love the keyring and the centre Basset is appliqued and is a pocket for some scissors.  More Tula Pink fabric too!
Thanks to Sandra for such a lovely swap item and thanks to all who have taken part in the Modern Quilters Ireland activities over the last 4 years! 

If you want to make one of these for your self the tutorial can be found here.

Linking to the Friday finishes.  Happy weekend everybody!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

What can you do with 8 blocks?

While I was having a cuppa at a break while visiting the Dublin branch of our guild we had a chat about WIP's and unfinished quilts.  One lady had 8 blocks made and suffering from repetitive block hell was struggling to make just one more and as you couldn't do much with just 8 blocks.  Well that got me thinking!  So I started playing with 5 blocks...

Then 10...

Then 5 again...

Then a bit mad with blocks!

This one I think I'd like to make as Gordon is a rower and this reminds me of rowboats!

Finally 8 blocks!  Anyone else have a layout for 8 blocks they'd like to share?

All of these blocks are from Amy Gibson's Quilt Block Cookbook.  While Jenny Doan's of Missouri Star Quilt Company was the first Craftsy Class I saw and inspired me to make a quilt, Amy Gibson's 2012 Free Block of the Month series taught me how to piece and the importance of a scant 1/4".  Not affiliated with them in anyway but have a further look if you like and want to find patterns for these quilt blocks!
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