Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Reunited And It Feels So Good

Look at the position of the felt pad in relation to the feed dogs! eek!


Yesterday I was reunited with my old Brother sewing machine after over three years! I’d lent it to my school’s art department when my sewing mojo departed.  As you can see, it was in a filthy dusty filthy rusty filthy state - even the bobbin case was in the wrong position, wedged.  #HoHum 

This was after 1 hr of cleaning, at this point I had to get the WD40 out!

It took about three hours to get him back to good order (pretty near total dismantle job). When I finally got to the point where I could thread the needle and do some practice stitching, features I’d forgotten were so useful started to reveal themselves - the working needle threader, the bobbin action, the needle up/down doopher and, most excitingly the ability to go commando and not use the foot pedal, just push a button and vroom vroom.  

I don’t know why I like this feature so much but I do and I am delighted to have it back in my life.  

Considering this is a pretty low-end machine I’m impressed by the welly under the bonnet in comparison to the cheap Aldi machine I inevitably ended up buying to use in the interim! (I only really bought it to embroider rude words on napkins, which was totally worth it, but seriously, sewing over a dark side seam was like attempting the ascent of K2.)



Brother purrs much more, feels reliable, sews like butter and his stitches are straight!  #Woohoo

They’ve never met before 


He’s now all shiny on a shelf waiting for action.  Not long baby, not long ... 

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Hello 2020

Well, hello!  It’s only been eight years since my last post.  I don’t really know what happened to my blogging mojo but I think it just suffered alongside the loss of my entire creative mojo in the last few years.  No dramatic reasons, just foggy mental health and work and health, the usual ...

I haven’t been entirely devoid of creative bursts - I’ve been mini-blogging on Instagram and I’m very happy over there ... But sometimes I want to ramble on a bit more, or explain a process and that’s when the Insta platform feels a little claustrophobic.  So, I thought I’d try an experiment and bring PingsAndNeedles out of retirement. I don’t know how often I’ll be using it or who will read it, but that’s not the point.  It was really only ever for me to have a space to ramble on and document my creative process, so that’s how I intend to continue.  Randomly! I have not spent hours crafting this post because the point is just to begin.

Let’s start with a little item I painted for a friend this Christmas ... and let me tell you the Origins Story:


It all started back here with this Ruby Star Rising and Andover fabrics quilt from 2010!





A few years later it needed a little bit of tlc where the seams were loosening up (prob wrong original tension, I’ve learned a lot since then!) So, having put it into my WIP pile I ignored it for a couple of years (whoops!) and then finally back in 2018 I decided to recycle and revamp the quilt into something new ... (adding more Melody Miller fabric along with some dots and solids, with a mustard tweed backing)



But that left this backing fabric unused .... 

So I used some of it to make make up removal pads (for the same friend)


and then this Christmas at my annual @thepaintingpotterycafe visit I painted this tapas dish which I thought she could put in her bathroom to hold the pads ...


I like the story so far.  

That’s all for now, thank you for reading.
Do any of you have the same kind of theme history behind gifting to people?  

Friday, 21 December 2012

Season’s Greetings


I know it’s been a while since I was here, it’s been a hell of an icky pain and tiredness filled few months, but I didn’t want to let the season go by without wishing you all a very very merry Christmas from me …

seasons greetings (Medium)

… and him.

I hope to be back blogging more regularly in the new year.  I’m going into hospital on 11th January - my 50th birthday (nice one, NHS, thanks!) - to have adhesion and bowel surgery, so hopefully things will be a little more zingy in the Pings camp after that.

I have been doing some stitching in my much-reduced up time and I’m looking forward to showing it off in due course, but for now I’d just like to send much love to all my lovely bloggy friends and warm wishes for a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

xxx

Friday, 2 November 2012

Bye Bye Blogtoberfest. Hello Brighton Sewing Giveaway Winner!






This post is brought to you through the power of Blogtoberfest 2012



So, ta ta Blogtoberfest.  I didn’t fare too badly, considering it was report writing and exam time! … I missed about a week’s worth of posts, all told.  I enjoyed trying to find meaty things to write about rather than just coasting it with easy posts, but I did slip in the odd quickie.

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Sorry.  Drifted off there.  Quickie.  ... stirs something in my deep and fogging memory.



Anyway, ahem. The real fun of Blogtoberfest for me is in the discovery of new blogs; new writers, new makers.  That temporary flash of discipline that makes us all focus to produce what we can, for each other, for a month.  Gotta love that.  There’ll be a little roundup of what caught my eye, so stay tuned.

The other thing I loved was that I started to wang on about synaesthesia, and I’m looking forward to doing some more posts on it, especially some touchy feely fabricy ones. 

I have to admit there’s been very little sewing going on chez Pings and I’m on day Three of my precious three day half term!

day one – lie in, drink coffee to get me out of the house, run around town to get everything done so can enjoy:

day two – lie in, relaaaaax, drink coffee for pleasure, see people, cook, watch a movie, spend day at hospital


day three – get up late. Listen to rain. Get mojo out of cupboard.  Put it back.  Go to work (WTF!?)  and sort out two term's worth of resources and recycling in peace and quiet and space.

What drives me crazy is that I’ve been up and attem by 7am all three days ... grr to stupid brain.  I'm now utterly wiped out, so hope that I'll be able to just have a nice relaxing weekend before going back on Monday!


P1140487_thumb2_thumbThis is the bit you came for really, and if you scrolled past all that blathering on, I forgive you.  Fabric desire renders us all impatient and greedy! 



Mrs Random  Number generator has decreed that the lucky winner of 12 FQs of Basic Grey Blitzen is …..



image

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Yay! Congratulations Sarah@ NarcolepticInACupboard ! I can honestly say you are going to love this fabric! Pop me an email with your postal details and the lovely ladies at Brighton Sewing Centre will send it on its way…



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I have a serious crush on this print … I even find myself thinking about it during the day.  There will deffo be another project. 



I never buy yardage. I tend to buy FQs;  that way you get four times as much fabric strokey joy for the same price. But this is something I don’t want to run out of.  The harmony of colour and the beautiful surface design just sends me.  I think it’s like william morris was around in the 70s.



<-- I’ve upped the saturation and contrast on this pic to show you what I really dig about these prints – the fine random spatter of dark brown and deep teal flecks.



 

Today I bought the green as well, it's lusherama ...





So, farewell Blogtoberfest … and thank you so much to Kat@ I Saw You Dancing for organising it all so beautifully.

And thank you to Nicole@ Brighton Sewing Centre for giving me such a lovely incentive to take part.



Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Winner Winner Turkey Hat Dinner

This post is brought to you through the power of Blogtoberfest 2012

 



Thanksgiving/Christmas Turkey Hat from Fred Flare. via
 

Without further ado … the comment that tickled me the most was ...
 

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So, congratulations, Jane - could you email me your address and I’ll get the FQs off to you forthwith? 









Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Turkey Hat – Caption Competition Giveaway

This post is brought to you through the power of Blogtoberfest 2012

The last few days have been (a) icky and (b) busy, so this, from the interwebs, has cheered me muchly … I especially like that peekaboo bit of fringe  …

Thanksgiving/Christmas Turkey Hat from Fred Flare. via

So … I thought … Let’s have an impromptu caption competition! …

honey vine1

I’ll send the lucky winner these 3 FQs of Michael Miller bloom/vine (I don’t know what it’s called and I’m too lazy to walk into the other room and look at the selvage, sorry!)

Mr Random won’t get a look in here – it has to be the one that makes me smirk/snort tea through my nose the most …



Just leave a comment after the beep …  I’ll pick a winner on Monday 29th midnight UK time …

Go On … Make Me Laugh!
International entries welcome …


P1140487_thumb2_thumbAnd as if that wasn’t enough for all you fabric fiends  … you still have until the end of the month to enter the giveaway for 12 FQs of Blitzen from Basic Grey.
This giveaway will run for the duration of Blogtoberfest – that is, until midnight 31st October UK time - I’ll announce the winner as close to November 1st as I can, to give you plenty of time to make a little something for Christmas.

International entries welcome for this one too!


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Smitten with Blitzen flimsy finish - Yay!

This post is brought to you through the power of Blogtoberfest 2012

Previously on Pings … Friday night, when last we met,  I was about to forsake the world of tech *gasp* to read my book.  Well, things started well … I indeed forsook the world of tech and started reading my book but then woke up in exactly the same position 6 hours later.

Pages I won’t have to re-read when I next pick up the book = 0.

*le sigh.

In brighter news, today I have been working on a quilt top with the 12 FQs of Blitzen that the lovely Nicole@ The Brighton Sewing Centre gave me … Don't worry, the winner of the giveaway still gets 12 FQs!


SAM_0072


I love my Basic Grey Blitzen Giveaway even more because I get to play too! 





I picked this bundle because of the softness of the colours … the browns are delicious, It’s like a mint choc chip ice cream cone, really …
 




 







I have to say, this is not one of my favourite taste combos, prob due to overdosing on creme de menthe in my teens, but then I see a pic like this  and I think I may have to seriously check out this recipe from SprinkleBakes! ...


 

 Because life dictates that I am such an erratic stitcher, I don’t know when I’ll be sitting down in front of the machine again for any focused length of time, so I always end up trying some really complex piecing I’ve never done before.  

As I was choosing the bundle for us I knew I wanted to do a really simple square patchwork to let the prints speak for themselves. For the giveaway winner I wanted a line that could work on its own, for a quick gifty project.

Lots of the comments on the giveaway post have said you'd like to make a table runner, and really I think this line would work brilliantly for runners, placemats, bed runners, mug rugs, quilts, jim jams ... yeah, I'm smitten with blitzen alright ...






The greeny blue also reminds me of the colour of all our railings in Brighton … so it’s nice that one lucky winner will be getting a little bit of Brighton in more ways than one …

pic via


 First I split the bundle into darks and lights … ish … and first cut into 6.5” strips and then squares – it maximised my fabric use and minimised my fabric waste, and is also the width of my long ruler!

I added in 6 squares each of Elephant Poo brown (not sure that’s the official Kona colour) and what I think is Kona Aloe, it’s paler than Klona Ice Frappe … I’m saving that dark chocolate for the back … (top of next pic)

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Then I used a kind of random Countdown “one from the top, two from the bottom please Bob” method and sewed them into 4 patches …

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I now exclusively use Bottom Line polyester bobbin thread … it is super fine, 60 wt, strong as an ox, and cos it's so fine you get hours of sewing fun on each bobbin  - if you use it as a top thread too it really makes it easy to match points accurately for piecing or foundation paper piecing, because your seam allowances are so much more accurate ...

I know people are a bit meh about polyester threads, but this stuff, in my experience, doesn't hinder the old puckered comfy cosy quilt shrinkage thing at all.  Not one jot.

I used an Aurifil dark grey on the top, but I’m having trust issues with it at the moment. 

The last three spools of 50wt  I’ve bought have sheared off in the machine, crumbled when pressed, or knotted terribly when hand sewing my summer EPP, even after I resorted to beeswax  ... I've never had a problem with the promotional sample packs ... just sayin ... Bad luck I’m sure, but I’d rather keep an eye on it up top from now on, and not trust it in the bobbin.

Blitzen has a lovely soft handle, but I do recommend starching the life out of it for cutting and piecing, as that lovely soft handle creates eterno-fray.


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I really didn’t want to think about placement too much, so I just looked at direction of print and some attempt at placement of prints in all positions, but to be honest, as I didn't do any of this on paper, I just went with the flow …

I pinned through the seams both sides to try and keep matchy … worked well!

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I trimmed the 4 patches down to 12” squares … so satisfying!

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A bit of a play with the four patch blocks …

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I stitched the blocks into rows 4 x 5 … then laid them out for a final check before sewing the rows together.  

As I laid them out, and in the split second that I turned round to get my camera to capture the moment for blogsterity, my bastard cat who really just bites me and lives most of the time next door with a woman who smells of Players No. 6 and gin, swanned in, sucked the catnip mouse you can see in the top right of pic, and destroyed my layout.

Check out the attitude in this cat’s face (sorry Hadley)

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So, I had to start again …

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Then I had a little peek in greyscale … I wasn’t very happy about the first four L—> R in the third row, but what the heck … let’s be honest - I really wasn’t going to unpick anything at this stage unless there was a disaster …

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Sod’s Law dictates that about 15 mins later I did actually have to unpick a whole row because it was RSU …

*le sigh, deux.

So, here is the main pieced part so far …

It was so wet and windy today it's a miracle I got this shot ... I honestly must have taken 25 pics before the gusts let up enough to capture it in its innate calmness ..

blitzen smitten flimsy

This is eventually destined as a lap quilt for a dear colleague who’s had a bit of a shit year  – without any additional sashing it measures 46” x 57.5” …

I’ve kept some print for the backing and perhaps cornerstone sashing, I’m not sure yet  …

I have half term reports to write, endless work to mark, and more undignified hospital shennanigans tomorrow … so I will return to this at some point before the end of Blogtoberfest!

I can thoroughly recommend this line though, it’s a joy to stitch …
I almost feel festive … just how I like it!



P1140487_thumb2_thumbSo, to be in with a chance to play with this little lot, you still have until the end of the month to enter the giveaway for 12 FQs of Blitzen from Basic Grey.

This giveaway runs for the duration of Blogtoberfest – until midnight 31st October UK time - I’ll announce the winner as close to November 1st as I can, to give you plenty of time to make a little something for Christmas.

International entries welcome!






Friday, 19 October 2012

Book Night {19/31}

This post is brought to you through the power of Blogtoberfest 2012


Had a tough week?



directed by Sean Ohlenkamp

Better now?


After an afternoon supervising a tricky GCSE ICT exam, I am now switching off all the technology.

I walk to work, so I don’t have that lovely snatched journey time to dip into a book. And it annoys me. Because I love to read.

I started the first book Ford Maddox Ford’s Parade’s End trilogy yonks ago, when the BBC version first started. I just haven’t had the time/inclination to sit and disappear into it for a while …

So, I am spending the evening with an old friend.
Hello book, it’s been a while!

What are you reading at the moment?





P1140487_thumb2_thumbRemember … you still have until the end of the month to enter the giveaway for 12 FQs of Blitzen from Basic Grey.

This giveaway will run for the duration of Blogtoberfest – that is, until midnight 31st October UK time - I’ll announce the winner as close to November 1st as I can, to give you plenty of time to make a little something for Christmas.

International entries welcome!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

creepy {18/31}


This post is brought to you through the power of Blogtoberfest 2012

I was doing a little window shopping  for my non crafty, but equally twisted in their own way, friends when this little beauty caught my eye …


Y1739_CAD_APPROVED.indd


Which led me to dig out a link ...

These children are not laughing, they’re peeing their pants with fear.




I have to be honest here, I’ve never been into dolls.  I had one doll when I was little, but I spent most of the time trying to smash her face (it was a horrid bisquey hard plastic texture).  All the rest of my toys were animals, all of whom had to endure serious schooling and experimental medical procedures.



I know a lot of quilters have a thing about Blythe dolls and where once they used to freak me out to the max, now I find them freakishly compelling … although I could never actually touch one.  (a Blythe doll, not a quilter!)





As for clowns. don’t even start me … seriously … do they not hear all those primary colours screaming like little trapped animals??

Were/are you a doll person?

What about clowns???
Can anyone out there, hand on heart, say they’re not just a little creeped out by em? 

I’d love to hear from you!   



P1140487_thumb2_thumbRemember … you still have until the end of the month to enter the giveaway for 12 FQs of Blitzen from Basic Grey.

This giveaway will run for the duration of Blogtoberfest – that is, until midnight 31st October UK time - I’ll announce the winner as close to November 1st as I can, to give you plenty of time to make a little something for Christmas.

International entries welcome!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Best Soda Bread Recipe - Ever {17/31}



This post is brought to you through the power of Blogtoberfest 2012

Seriously - I make a fair bit of soda bread and I've finally mastered the balance between moisture and crumb.  The secret's in the oats - they soak up any excess moisture so you don't have to overbake.

This works for me in an oven which pretty much only has three settings: meringue - stew - scorch.  For what it's worth, I preset the oven to 180 … And bake for about 35-40 minutes. The cooling part is really important … it's how the crumb takes shape.

You will need:
200g      Wholemeal flour   (the top picture is this version)
50g         Plain white flour
[You could just use 250g plain white flour, if you prefer – see big pic at end]
150g        Oats (porridge/rolled etc.)
1 tsp        Bicarbonate of Soda (flat)
2 tsps       Baking Powder (flat)
(optional)  handful mixed seeds (hemp, sunflower, sesame, poppy, whatever you like) or nuts – walnuts are great in this, make the pieces small and nibbed, not almighty clunkers …
1 tsp         salt
2 tsps        brown sugar – don’t leave this out!  Honey or agave at a pinch … or try treacle!
350 mls buttermilk – or if you can’t get it, in order of preference: plain yoghurt (bio is good) milk or water

Method
Sieve all dry ingredients - Do not overdo it with the baking powder/bicarb - too much and your bread won't rise and will just taste strongly of bicarb. 

Mix in liquid with a fork, quickly and lightly till you have a sticky but definitely dough like ball.  DO NOT OVERMIX.

Turn out on to a floured board.  Knead very briefly (max 30 secs) and shape into a round flat ball.
Cut a deep cross in the top and sprinkle with flour.

Turn onto a floured baking tray and bake for 40ish mins.  It should be a good nutty brown on top and sound hollow when you tap the bottom.

SAM_0125
this one was with white flour, seeds and nuts and it was totally scrummalicious

Leave to cool on wire rack for at least 30 mins before attempting to cut.  It allows the oats to swell up and take on any of the excess moisture.

Soda bread really does only take 5 mins to prepare.  (and about as long to wolf down!)  If you've run out of bread it's so simple to just get in there and make some. 

Are you a good baker? I can be, but I’m not consistent -  I tend to be too imprecise about the chemistry of it all.

That’s why I like soda bread! It’s a pretty forgiving recipe, you can chuck in nuts and seeds, or play around with the flours – I’ve substituted 50g of the wholemeal with buckwheat flour and that works well. You can even add fruit and cinnamon – you’ll have to tweak the flour down – but once you’ve got your basic soda bread right, you can experiment all you like and this recipe gives you somewhere to start from! 

Even if it comes out like a brick (which it can do if you overwork it or don’t use enough bicarb/baking powder) it will still be delicious!

Nothing tastes better with soup.  Or homemade jam.

(Prob too late to go and make some now, so it bakes while I watch the final of The Great British Bake Off on iPlayer … but tempting, very tempting)



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Remember … you still have until the end of the month to enter the giveaway for 12 FQs of Blitzen from Basic Grey.

This giveaway will run for the duration of Blogtoberfest – that is, until midnight 31st October UK time - I’ll announce the winner as close to November 1st as I can, to give you plenty of time to make a little something for Christmas.

International entries welcome!

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