Tuesday 29 March 2011

3 days in Berlin … Ideas?


I’ve always had a bit of a thing about Berlin.  I’m fascinated by its history - from the early 20th century, WWI, the Weimar Republic, WWII, and then post-war, through the times of the East/West divide and the unbelievable machinations of the Stasi, right to the other side and reunification … It is a city that has seen so much change.  

I guess I should fess up that I’m a bit of a war/spy/history nerd too - I always have been.  If I believed in past lives, I’d say I must have lived in Berlin for at least one of them. 

… although I probably worked at Bletchley Park as a code-breaker in another!

I’ve had a longer version of this trip planned for about 3 years, but for various reasons have had to cancel every year.  Last year my brother was dying in hospital so there was no way I could go.  This year I’m going.  Alone.  For Three Days.  Yippee!! 

I leave early on Sunday and come back late Tuesday night, so we are talking relatively flying visit!


One of my must-sees is this button shop …
The owner, Paul, has had the shop for about 30 years, and started selling buttons in flea markets … I really can’t wait …

I’m staying bang in the centre (Mitte) about 10 mins from Alexanderplatz, but am happy to travel on the U-Bahn or S-Bahn or walk.  (It’s about 40 minutes walk to the button shop (thank g’ness for Google Maps! 

Talking of which … Did you know you can print out a photographic set of walking/driving directions, along with the normal map ??  Isn’t that fantastic?

I’m not sure that construction site will still be there, but hey …

This is very much a see-some-sights-but-mainly-just-wander-around-a-bit break.  I am fully intending on having a much longer break another time when I can do all the usual really touristy museum stuff.  This is just a little taster.

Apart from being armed with my Google Map directions I also have the Moleskine Berlin City Guide Notebook … I love these little pocket diy-city-guides.  All they have is a full A-Z map of the city, a train map, and then a load of sections for you to write your own stuff.

The coolest thing is they come with tracing paper post-it notes that you stick over the map pages and write stuff on … like this … 


Over time they build into really eclectic, idiosyncratic little travel guides … I find I add to them as I go along, and then when I’m back home too …  A brilliant way to collect good shops, restaurants, and, dare I say, fabric shops, etc.

This is a little collage from my Amsterdam guide (best shopping and sexiest men bakers ever!)


So, any ideas for places to go, shops to buy fabric at (I already have Frau Tulpe marked on my map) sexy male bakers to ogle, would be really gratefully received …

… please leave me a comment and I’ll bring a little bit of Berlin back (not a piece of the Wall!) for any that I get round to visiting …

Monday 28 March 2011

OOh this is a scrummy giveaway {not mine, natch}

The lovely Kaelin over at The Plaid Scottie (who is on my Doll Quilt Swap) has got her 4th (!) truly delicious Blogiversary giveaway going down ….

Not only is she giving away this fab stack of ta-dots

But also, through mysterious circumstances, she also has this wonderful mini quilt …

I really don’t want to share this, as I want it vay vay badly meself …

… But hey! Jump on over there and get in on the action …

It’s so sublime, it would be a crime not to share … just remember to send it to me, please, if you win Smile

Friday 25 March 2011

three little words … kona colo[u]r cards

Hey chaps, did you know that Mandy @ Simply Solids has got the Kona Colo(u)r Cards in stock for a mere 15 of our British Pounds?

I had hoped to build my own colour card, gradually over time - I like the idea of my sewing history being recorded somehow with a swatch: each solid the snapshot of a bigger project … yada yada …

… but really, who was I kidding?

One look at this and I realised that us mere quilting mortals simply don’t have that much time!

 ... making it a Need Not A Want.

Or,  is it just that I’m swayed by the fact that


Tuesday 22 March 2011

Modern Relief - Japan


I haven’t posted about the situation in Japan until now, simply because I was speechless, utterly wordless in fact.  It’s estimated that rebuilding will take a minimum of 5 years and over £145 billion  … yes, I’ll just say that again … £145 billion.

I have so many connections with Japan through friends, colleagues and students past and present, let alone, from the quilty side of life, all those wonderful Japanese fabrics that make my life sing at the sewing machine - so I can’t just sit and do nothing.

So, I’ve signed up to create a quilt to be raffled for modern relief japan.  Raffles start 4th April, rolling weekly till 9th May. 

My first thought, last week, was to adapt the dresden from Lily’s Quilts QAL to a 21 blade red dresden on a white background, with some whizzy hand quilting of some sort … Sashiko style most likely, with added sashing to make a rectangular lap quilt.

… So, imagine my delight when the modern reliefers posted their blog button!  Now I have inspiration for the surround too!   I might make it a bit more Gee’s Bend-y just to add a bit of interest …

This modern relief project is being organised by Amy from  Amy's Creative Side, Erin from Two More Seconds and Heather from { House } of A La Mode.

If you’re interested in getting involved head over to the modern relief japan website.  All money raised is going to Mercy Corps, who have direct on the ground connections through their partner Peace Winds.

Please watch this video from Peace Winds, shot on 18th March.

No emotive music.  No dramatic voiceover.   Just a 2.5 minute drive through devastated towns  …  in case you needed a reminder of the scale of this country’s need for help. 

What are you waiting for?  Click the button
… or email modernrelief(at)gmail(dot)com
for more info …


Monday 21 March 2011

Charley Harper Quiltalong - the tale of the prawny thing -

As some of you might know, I’ve embarked on a little Charley Harper fun over on flickr 

This quiltalong has been organised by the uber talented Ethne over at flaming stitches - thank you so much Ethne ... this is the best fun!

I chose this wonderful print as my inspiration:


shopFront1Last year I went to an a-ma-zing Charley Harper exhibition (you can see some of the prints here) at Castor and Pollux, a wonderful gallery/shop here on the seafront in Brighton. 

I’ve always been a fan, but to see them in real life, oh my!  The colours!  The lines!  Swooooooon!

In the back of my mind was the intention to do something stitchy with his designs - I’d seen tapestry patterns but I’m not really in the mood for tapestry these days, so I just put the whole project on the backburner … until now.

Now, here comes the problem.  The largest image I could find online of the muskies was tiny.

Let's have another look at the print …. see that prawny thing on the left?  Yeah, small isn’t it?!


Blown up, you can see it’s even more difficult to work out those clean, sharp, Charley Harper lines …  What to do?



Well, I knew that Castor and Pollux also sold the amazing £120 coffee table tombstone of a book, “Charley Harper, an illustrated life”,  (There’s a more affordable £35 version too, but I needed big!)

... so I set off with my camera and a smile …  

I’m a regular exhibition goer there, so I was hoping that they’d kind of know I’m a good sort, and ignore any madness  …

me: “Hi, can I ask a really big favour?  I’m doing a Charley Harper embroidery and I really need to take a close up pic of the prawny thing in my favourite print … could I? Please??”

mr castor&pollux: “Err … yes, well, at least you asked!  Go ahead”



That’s a bit better!  The joy of Charley Harper is the simplicity of shapes that he used to create these works of delight.  I couldn’t see any of that claw or leg brilliance on my silly pixelated mess.

I also picked up a few more details … like the yellow lines and the red blotches  on the muskie himself … (not that it shows here, but the diamonds are yellow too)


and some sweet detail on the little fishies …



So, by way of thank you to them, and a little pressie for me, (it's still 10 days till payday, so I forfeited the roast chicken for Sunday lunch here!) I bought the exhibition poster, which I’d always meant to get last year - it was only £5. (Click pic if you can’t resist and want one too!)

charley poster

… and now the little prawny thing is cut, fused and ready to applique and embroider, along with the other creatures!



Yay!  Let the detailing commence!

Have you ever had to wait to really get started on a project?  Waiting for one key fabric, sewing thread, machine needle(!) ??

Sunday 20 March 2011

FMF Giveaway - A Winner!

So sorry for the delay in drawing a winner, but I forgot to finish the little something extra to go with these

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Remember this little tease?


Well, it became this  - my prototype wristwatch pincushion!

I’m just putting together a little tutorial, so stay tuned …

So, without further ado, other than to say thank you to all the people who visited my 365 project and left comments either there or here … the winner is ….

r  Dianne from Quiltova in the Czech Republic!

You should check out her blog - Dianne’s got a fantastic sense of colour … you should see her choices for the Lily’s Quilts QAL here

So congratulations Dianne! This little package of goodies will be on its way to you just as soon as I have an address … I’ve emailed you …

Commiserations to everyone else, but I’ll leave you with some seasidey pictures I took of the amazing low tide we had here in Brighton yesterday … it’s very rare to see any sand, ours is an unforgiving, pebbly beach, so this was heaven …

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Lucky Lucky ME! - Urban Home Goods Swap -

Oh, I do love a swap!


What I always forget is that, after all that toiling and worrying about what you’re making for someone else, something delicious arrives in the mail that someone else has agonised over, created, crafted and MADE FOR ME !

As part of the Urban Home Goods Swap on flickr, the lovely Amy (bixandbee on flickr) sent me this wonderful sewing machine cover, all the way from the mountains of North Carolina! 


I am utterly delighted - I feel like a proper seamstress now!  And Damiel the boy racer machine has the choice of being in touch with his feminine hexie side (above) or donning the go faster stripes that also suit so well (below)


You’ll notice a little scrappy bookmark there too … I’m going to need it as I make my way through this fantastic International Quilt Festival mega mag … swoon!  If only I could get hold of magazine-a-books like this here in the UK!  Thank you Amy.


Really, truly, from the depths of my thankingness, thank you! 

Monday 14 March 2011

Lily’s Quilts - Quiltalong - A Dresden Platter of Deliciousness

Lily's Quilts QAL

You all know Lynne at Lily’s Quilts, right?  My quilting crush on her started when she made this beautiful Penguin Books quilt for her very very lucky sister:

Then, there was this little beauty on the DQS10 swap on flickr (not just for the beauty of the quilt, which I absolutely adore, but also for the hours of hilarity in the discussion groups … you had to be there)

… and then most recently, Lynne made the fab Hexagon Park quilt for Moda Bake Shop, using Aneela Hoey’s fab Sherbet Pips:

Well, now that Lynne is practically quilting royalty the upside is that we have a wonderful QuiltAlong to take part in … see her post here and the Lily’s Quilts flickr group here

I’m s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o excited about this!

  • I’ve been dying to try a dresden plate for yonks
  • Each block is QAYG (Quilt as You Go) which I’ve also always wanted to do!
  • It’s the dreaded circle piecing & there’ll be plenty of people to hold my hand. 
  • Oh, and did you see that concentric circle quilting?  Yup, we’ll be doing that too!

I’m actually only going to do one block, as a mini quilt/cushion [pillow] cover or summat like that … but that’s just because I really don’t have the time to commit to a whole quilt at the moment …

I’ve also always wanted to do a colour wheel, so here are my fabric choices:  YAY!

Just what I need!  A little colour to take my mind off a stinking head cold and a generally grotty demeanour …

So, if you want to get involved pop on over to Lynne's blog or Lily’s Quilts on Flickr and come join in the fun!

ooooh ... and don't forget you have til midnight Tuesday (UK time) to enter my giveaway for some Flea Market Fancy  !!

Thursday 10 March 2011

The 365 Project & A Little FMF Giveaway - Dumbell & Tulips

If you want to scroll down to the Giveaway bit, feel free, but you’ll only have to scroll up again … mwahhahah!

Since Valentine’s Day I’ve been taking a photo a day and posting it here at the 365 project … I’ve tried to make a point of not photographing too much stitchy stuff, but bits and pieces inevitably creep in …

Here’s how March is shaping up - (I set myself a little 7 day colour challenge this week) - It’s good fun and I like the discipline of a tiny daily task.  Click on pic or link in sidebar to go to my project page.


So, onto the giveaway …

Why now, I hear you squeak? Well, I meant to have a giveaway to greet the new year, but I missed it - then I planned on having one when I got to 11,111 page views, but I missed that too …  and now I’m nearly at 12,000  … coo-err!

So, before I get bogged down in any more swaps/quiltalongs/custom orders (more about them soon) I thought I’d just do a teensy giveaway to greet the slow but sure green shoots of spring.


You could be the lucky winner of two fat quarters of FMF  -  Dumbell & Tulips in brown - I know it's not a giant haul, but it could just complete someone's stash eh?


I’m also throwing in another FQ (things are nicer in threes) of a Michael Miller fabric that I love but just can’t find a use for!  The brown is so rich and the quality is just divine.


and last and probably least (!) a little frivolous item I’ve been dying to make for ages ….


If you want to have a chance of winning 3 FQs and a little something silly made by me please pop on over to my 365 project page and leave me a comment on any picture that grabs your eye …

I’ll do my random org-ing based on the comments THERE but if you leave a comment here TOO then I’ll count that as a second entry … easy peasy eh?  Feel free to spread the word :)

*edited to add: sorry, I didn't realise that you had to signup to 365 in order to leave a comment, so you can just browse my pics there and leave your comments here if you don't want another web-based thing to  get inovlved with !

Entries close Tuesday 15th March midnight my time, here in jolly old Brighton … Good Luck!

and yes, of course, I'll post internationally !

Wednesday 9 March 2011

the serendipity of foraging in random forests …


When you go for a walk in a forest the first thing you probably notice is that there are a lot of trees.

As you walk a bit longer you might start to breathe in the smell of fresh or dry leaves, turned earth, of grass, of mushrooms.  Then you start to notice particular trees, they might be imperious; tall; short; teenage and sapling; arthritic and dying; proud; weedy or just plain misfits in the scheme of things.  You soon realise that the path you started to follow has long since disappeared.  You have been navigating by sensory instinct rather than compass.

I find the same thing happens when I have the time to go on a little web wandering …  I will often follow a link from a comment, which leads me to link upon link upon link until I find something that gets my solar plexus and I have to stop a while to catch my breath.


This is what happened when I discovered Leeds based designer-maker, Mr Finch. The first thing I read was this post back in November about a 19th Century Miner's canary, so I started to follow.

I’d been reading his blog in lurk mode for quite a while until he posted this about inspiration, and then I just had to de-lurk.

Then I saw these sleeping foxes and I fell hook line and sinker!


So I asked if he could make a smaller one - and look at this!


… trouble was, I’d already bought this beautiful moth from Mr Finch's Etsy store so it will have to wait until next month now …


they are so delicately made and look just fantastic on the wall …

P1010808 P1010809 P1010805

Finch is making a lot of moths at the moment!


but he also makes wolves and moons and birds - these are his latest:

weeping trophy heads:



.... and he loves a bit of moss!

So, I urge you to go for a wonderful walk in the forest with Mr Finch. It can be a little dark and a bit frightening in fairy story kind of way, but it’s one of those blogs you want to start from the very beginning and read through to the present day … Enjoy!

If after that you want to buy a little something to mark the day, do visit his Etsy store

all pictures (except the single moths) from Mr Finch's blog page


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