Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Mandala Embroidery

When I ordered this beautiful Mandala Embroidery book last year I was dying to break out the embroidery hoop and floss again, so I did.  I combined it with a thought of being super-organised for a June birthday present for my dear and very lovely friend, Judith.

It was tricky deciding which of the beautiful designs to stitch, but this one won out and is aptly called 'Friendship Meadow' (no 11 in the book).  I chose soft, pretty hues of pink, lilac, green, yellow and orange to stitch with.  My choices were influenced by J's beautiful lounge room where I lose all ability to concentrate on our conversation because there are so many exquisite and unique little bits and pieces of design detail and decor, and my eyes are always distracted by the beauty I notice this time that I didn't last time.  

As you can see the wooden hoop looked bit bare when it was fitted.  So, I hunted out my little bundle of 6 Liberty fqs and found this PERFECT print to wrap the hoop with.  

I haven't tried wrapping a hoop in fabric before, but it was really not too hard.  I put double sided sticky tape on the inner and outer flat sides of the hoop (about 6 inches at a time so as not to be left having to hold the sticky wood) and just wrapped carefully.  The fine Liberty made this really easy.  Next time I need to work a wee bit closer at the beginning and ends of the wrapping to cover the little bits I didn't do, but as you can see in the picture below those have easily been hidden by a little scrappy bow ;-)

I added a little strip of the Liberty just looped and tied around the screw fixing which will allow J the choice of hanging her hoop or just propping it on a shelf.  

Carina's design worked up so beautifully and was such a pleasure to stitch in the early months of this year.  If you love embroidery, or would like to have a go, this book has some gorgeous designs and you can simplify the stitches if you need to though it's mostly backstitching, so not too tricky.  The book comes with iron on transfers for each design.  This was a new experience for me, and I'd recommend if you are new to iron on transfers, to try one of the designs you don't like so much on a scrap of calico or sheeting.  Each transfer works for a number of times, but I "wasted" a couple of mine because I didn't really know how hard to press, for how long etc.  I had a couple that were too feint and a wobbly one because I just lost balance while doing it - doh!

As you know, Judith runs her own Quilting Classes business from a beautiful studio in Belfast, so I couldn't resist having this print made up for her birthday, too.  Creativity is Judith's God gifting and I have watched her, and been inspired, dare I say "infected", by her talent and passion for so many years.  She is most certainly passing it on!   

Thursday, 20 June 2019

A, B, C

A    is for Awesome quilt by Lori Holt.

B    is for Beginning another project.

C    is for CT who "needs" this quilt ;-) even though she may not get it until she's 15!

Yes, I'm rifling my fabric boxes again for something new.  This is all my Lori Holt prints and similarly coloured/styled Riley Blake prints that were left over from my Happy Days BOM quilt.  Um, no, that quilt is not finished yet :-o  I've added a mix of low volumes to have a scrappier feel to the quilt background and to keep working at reducing my stash.  So the plan is to use mostly these fabrics, but I will dip into my general stash for greys and other bits I might need as this quilt progresses.

No sewing yet, but I made a start cutting. I did wonder at my sanity as I cut squares that were 1.5", 1" and even 0.75" in size! This is all of the cutting for the first row blocks, the sashings and the low volume inner scallop borders. There is still such a lot to cut, but I already know this will be a VERY long term project and that's ok.  I plan to enjoy this one - it's such a beautiful design and I know CT will love it - eventually!!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Christmas in June

Normally, there is no excuse for using the C word in June, I know.  But, I'm trying to finish up some WIPs and this one was just next on my list.

So, apologies to those of you who cannot bear to see Christmas fabric this early in the year, but perhaps I can justify it by saying it's not early for this year, but late for last.  Does that help?  No.  Oh well, apologies anyway.

This is my Chunky Cut Christmas Quilt which was a quick and satisfying stitch up back in early December in an attempt to reduce my Christmas fabric stash.

All it needed was basted, quilted and bound.  Wavy line quilting worked a treat on the fun festive prints and some biased red and white candy cane striped binding completed the effort.

Done, done and done and happily ticked off the list, and, of course, ready for some wintery snuggles when the time comes.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Sometimes simple is all that's required

Well, that was an unexpected blip in transmission!  I hoped to be present here more regularly this year, but I think I'm trying to find rhythm where there is none really.  So I can do one of two things.  Either, I can be disappointed that it's not working and call it a day, or I can accept and enjoy what time there is to sew and share as and when it happens.

As you see, I made the sensible choice!

My B&C stash got smaller last year, but it's still overly healthy (if there is such a thing), so I need to continue its depletion into pretties!

First up, I was in the mood for something simple.  I had quite a few small pieces of various prints that wouldn't stretch to a whole block's worth of cutting, but would chop into charm squares pretty well. Fortuitously, Amy Smart posted this gorgeous baby quilt tutorial around the same time as my deliberations which reminded me of the beauty of simplicity, and how sometimes, that's all that's needed.  So I got cutting and laying out on the bedroom floor.

Some setting squares and stitching later, it looked like this.   Glorious scrapilicious flimsy!!

I kept the quilting simple too - just a quilting foot width either side of the seams, and hey presto! A pretty little lap quilt.

This isn't the picture of this quilt that I'd like to be sharing with you, but our weather has been so wet and miserable for end May/beginning June that I can't get it outside for a brighter shot. Come on, sunshine!!  Anyway, this is the picture I have and it kind of makes me wish I'd made the quilt a little bit bigger, even though small was always the plan.  It will be great on a single bed, I think.

Amazingly, this little lot has hardly made any difference to those fabric boxes at all.  Perhaps a project bag of some sort would make another dent.  Do you think my stash is secretly self-reproductive? ;-)

I hope you are all sewing up lovely treats for yourselves and others, too.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Mini Archie's March Furtle

Archie The Wonder Dog

Hello there!

March was a much quieter month stitch-wise than I'd have liked, but c'est ma vie!

I did manage to overcome the woe of having to unpick the quilting disaster on my son's quilt, and it's all looking much nicer now. And, extra bonus, it's finished!!

A bit of a diversionary project resulted in a finished virus scarf too.  If you like to crochet and haven't tried this pattern yet, you should give it a go.  It works up really nicely and gets off to a speedy start, though of course as the rounds get bigger it seems to slow down a bit.  I have referenced some patterns and a useful video tutorial on my original post, if you are interested.

Back in January I decided my goals were:

1) to find time for more - progress and prep
2) to sew my stash and scraps (and generally use what I've already got)

Well, I didn't do so well on the time thing as life bit hard this month, but I did use up two balls of yarn from stash for the scarf and the quilt made use of lots of fabric that had been specially collected over a couple of years.  Aside from buying replacement threads for the quilting, everything used was already here.  Somehow though, the stash boxes still look just as full!!

I hope you've all had the month you wanted - productive, relaxed or otherwise.  I'm hoping to pop in on some of you through the Furtle shortly.

Linking up to Mini Archie's Furtle Around the Blogosphere.

Monday, 25 March 2019

The University Quilt

In spite of the distraction of the virus scarf (see last post), I didn't give up entirely on unpicking the broken quilting on the latest quilt I have been making for my son.  About three weekends in, I really did think it was never going to end though.  The problem is when you do a really great spray basting job, there's just no quick way to unpick quickly!

So, I finally set aside the seam ripper and gave the quilt another press before hanging it over the bannisters to contemplate my next move.  I ordered alternative thread and then sat down to play with quilting ideas.

The doodling was quite fun actually.  I considered the four designs above.  The top left diagonal cross hatch was ruled out just because it was too much work after all the quilting I'd already been through.  Top right is a square spiral set on point - I loved the idea of this one but thought that it might be a lot of switching and turning and twisting, and also I always think a spiral is best quilted when you can do it all in one go, which was just never going to happen here.  The two bottom options were my favoured choices.  Both section the quilting in quadrants and then echo the quadrant lines out.  Given the scales of the blocks,  I was able to afford to quilt a little wider apart than I sometimes can, so this suited my lazyitis / broken heart from unpicking previous efforts.  IG helpers seemed to like the diagonal quadrants best, which was handy because so did I and it made finalising the decision very easy.  So new thread, quilt design, chalk and ruler and off I went.

The quilting lines are approx 3" apart and look well on this quilt - not that you can probably tell from my pathetic photography efforts.  I have to say that the quadrant split was really useful when working on a small domestic machine.  You aren't having to haul and push as much bulk through the machine throat.  I'd recommend it.

So, although there were some metaphorical tears along the way, the quilt is now bound and beautiful and I think probably my favourite 'man-quilt' to date.  As I mentioned, DS wants to keep it for university (he's a little ahead of himself) which is grand.  I'm just chuffed he's happy with it!  And, also very chuffed that it's done!!

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Little Virus Shawl

I've been intrigued for some time by the crocheted virus shawls that I see popping up on my Pinterest and IG feeds. In a classic case of avoidance, I used the tediousness of unpicking the quilting on DS's quilt as my excuse to start one.  Makes no logical sense whatsoever, of course, but never mind.

I'm not a very experienced crocheter by any means.  At most, I dabble here and there and stick to relatively uncomplicated things.  I think crochet is all about getting the flow of the pattern in my head.  If I can't get that, then I'm stuck trying to remember which number on which line of the pattern I'm supposed to be at and spend more time counting and re-counting than stitching.

I'm happy to say that with a little help from two sets of UK terminology instructions (24 Carat Crochet and straightcurves.co.ukhttps://www.straightcurves.co.uk/community/crochet-virus-shawl-uk-translation/) and an incredibly helpful video by Bella Coco on Youtube, I did manage to find the flow, to understand where the pattern was going, and I really enjoyed the stitchy 4 row repeat that grew my virus scarf (not really big enough to call a shawl) relatively quickly.

Once stitched, I rinsed the scarf through in some warm water, squeezed out the excess (don't wring it!) and pinned it out on a towel on my bedroom floor to block it.  The hardest part of this process now, is just finding a time when and a space where CT cannot access it (or the pins) while it's drying!

Ta da, I now have a gorgeously soft virus scarf for the spring - although it currently feels like spring was that week two weeks ago when we had three days of warm air, and now we are back to winter.

I wish I could capture the colour of this yarn for you, but it is impossible to get it right.  Most of these pics looks like hot neon pink instead of the more coral shade it really is.  I think it was called geranium.  It is so very soft and not even the teeniest bit itchy.  I REALLY struggle not to itch with fibres on my neck or arms and lost interest in knitting and crocheting in my twenties because I could never wear anything I stitched!  I live in hope that gorgeous yarns won't make me want to scratch all day, but with little success.  I'm finding that really I need to stick to cotton or acrylic yarns and rarely can I get away with any wool content at all.

This yarn is Stylecraft Malabar which is a blend of cotton 78% and silk 22% and I adore the feel of it.  Being cotton, I'm not sure how warm it would be for a winter scarf/shawl but with just two balls, I've stitched up a decent sized neck scarf for the spring/early summer.  It's a DK weight yarn and I worked it up in a 4mm hook, though I suspect I would have achieved a drapier feel if I'd gone up a hook size.

Next time I crochet a virus shawl I really would like to keep going and make it a proper shawl size.  From what I read most folks are suggesting it takes between 500g and 800g of yarn for that size.  I will need to think carefully what yarn I could use so that it won't itch and be relegated to the non-wearable pile.  I also definitely want to use a variegated or colour changing yarn next time.  It's the only regret I have about the little scarf but I was just using up a couple of balls I had in my box, so that's ok.

Well, that was an itch well and truly scratched (pardon my pun). Only now I'm trying to figure out what excuse I can come up with for starting a shawl sized version when I have still two other long term/large crochet projects on my WIPs list. Hmmm ...

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