Monday, 31 January 2011

Point and Shoot

Finally pay day has come round … golly it’s been a tough six weeks, what with Christmas 'n all!  I have to admit I’ve had my fill of sardines on toast this month …

Anyway … my pay slip also included a pretty meagre but nonetheless very welcome and not to be sniffed at £150 annual bonus - so I have FINALLY replaced my camera. It’s been about two years since I’ve had a properly functioning, good camera - especially one that has proper manual override for when I’m not feeling lazy.

Oh Joy. 

I won’t bore you by regaling the endless hours of internet reviews and comparisons I’ve read over the past week - finally narrowing it down to two - the Panasonic TZ9 {or 10} or the Fuji S1800. 

Neither will I subject you to all the gory details of the mad rush to the shops after work, the umming, the ahhing, the taking of photos inside my coat to simulate low light conditions (much to the confusion of a girl who really shouldn’t work in a camera shop until she learns that exposure isn't about how much cleavage you've got on show) that eventually led to the purchase of my 2nd choice.

Nor will I document the the rush back to the shop an hour later to admit that I was going to regret my 2nd choice forevermore.  Or even my feelings of woe at having to fork out £60 extra to finally secure my original 1st choice (the Leica lens sold it really).  Sardines here we come again …

And I certainly won’t subject you to the dizzy fact that I had to go back a third time to get my bank card (I was 1/2 way home by then) … No, really I won’t.

I’ll just let you gaze in awe at the great macro and really very good black and white modes, while I ponder the endless possibilities that now lie ahead …


… Obviously I’d like you to ignore the chipped nail varnish and sausage fingers - having spent the whole bloomin weekend cleaning am a tad cheesed off that I managed to forget my bathroom mirror in the process …

Here’s that Macro shot again:


I’m off to take pictures of dust.  See you soon!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Building Blocks

Apologies for my absence of late, but been a bit busy in flickr world  on the old swap front, but even more so in the real world of work - 3rd week of term is always a bit of an eeeurrrgh and this term is certainly no exception! 

I’ll be back in full blog harness next week, but in the meantime
I thought you might appreciate these luscious delights … 

... photos of the Educational Centre in El Chaparral

archi green

The architect is Alejandro Muñoz Miranda. (choose the Spanish option on his website to see more pics)


Inspiration for some more improv quilt blocks methinks?

This weekend will be spent cleaning (yuck!) and quilting and binding my DQS10 effort (yay!) … pics to follow … 

What does your weekend hold in store?  Loveliness, I hope …

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Comfort Zone … Schmumfort Zone

Today’s post is about my “Bloody Mary Bendy Block", or Mini Quilt, for the DQS10 swap on flickr … This was my first foray into improv quilting* ... 

*a fancy way of saying you don't measure anything and you just go with the flow ... 

If you're a tad OCD about stuff like straight lines, measuring and geometry (which let's face it most quilters are, LOL)  this can be a little unnerving!

Loretta Pettway, 
“Housetop” variation, 2003
Cotton and cotton blends
Overall: 89 1/2 x 71 in. 
Mount: 70 1/2 in.

I was inspired by the Gee’s Bend quilts I’d seen online and in a book I was given for Christmas … click on the link for a wonderful website devoted to the ladies of Alabama.

(c) 2007-2011 by Elizabeth Green-Hartman

Then this truly fantastic Echino improv block made by Elizabeth Hartman @ Oh! Fransson inspired me to give this whole quilt block improv thing a go …

 And this is what I came up with:


It’s pieced using tiny scraps of Echino Winter 2010 in the left hand and bottom strips, and then some Ruby Star Rising scraps (leftover from this wonderful little gift), Patty Young’s Zen Garden in Espresso & Sherbet, Lecien dots in chartreuse, and the square multi colour print is Robert Kaufman’s Quilts for Kids.  The solids are Kona celery and tomato ... (hence the Bloody Mary name!) you can get a better look here.

My reflection on this is that the whole improv thing was strangely liberating, once I got over the whole “keep it straight” “what size should that bit be?” thing.  I also enjoyed choosing the fabric Gee’s Bend style, in a random way.  I even sewed a curve!  Woot! Woot!  I’d definitely like to do another, but the next one will be a little less Gee’s Bend-y and a bit more me-y.

So, DQS10 partner, if you're stalking me here ... I hope you like it :) 

Has anyone else tried a little improv?  Did you find it liberating or unsettling?  If you haven't tried it ... go on ... dare you!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

welcome mat

Today I’d like you all to extend a warm welcome to my new
cutting mat …

cutting mat new

My old Jakar was over 15 years old, and bless her, she’d lost every ounce of magical restorative self-healing power ...

jakar mat

… let alone the fact that for the first 10 years I used her for paper projects, so she was covered in bits of glitter & paint & glue that wouldn’t shift … and no measuring guides, so everything's been a bit hit and miss on the squaring off front!  

cutting board

 Well, plenty of markings here … oh my, what a difference this makes!  It’s just so much easier on my rotary blade!

Just in time for all the manic swap action …

If anyone’s interested,  I bought it online from The Cotton Patch  - they have great fabric, including some nice looking solids (which I’m not buying cos of this dashed fabric diet) but they also have incredibly extensive stock of notions and haberdashery - Insul-brite for making potholders, rulers, mats, needles for every possible occasion, oh it’s just joy and good pricing too.  

They do ship internationally, but obviously it’s a bit daft to buy a ruler and ship it, so just stick to the fabrics and other stuff! …

Cotton Patch are also incredibly helpful, as the first package went awry in the crap Christmas post fiasco, and having received a resounding “UH?” from the Post Office, they were very quick off the mark. 

So, Omnigrid - This could be the start of a beautiful friendship -

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Spread the Liebe!

So, I logged on today to find that Leila from Where The Orchids Grow had selected me for a Liebster Award! Yay!

I’d like to thank my agent, my amazing director, my cutting mat, my rotary cutter, my sewing machine, and of course my stash …. I couldn’t have done it without you …

So, what’s a Liebster Award anyway? 


Well, you know how sometimes you visit a blog and it’s like some towering skyscraper of brilliance, with twenty gazillion followers … and you think … “Whoa! I am not worthy”?


Thatched Cottage, Sneyd Park, Bristol - DSC05732
The idea behind the Liebster is that it is awarded to us smaller “thatched cottage” type blogs, with 300 or fewer followers (try saying that when you’ve had a sherbet or two!) 

The condition of the award is that you pay it forward and spread the Liebe (that’s love … keep up) and nominate another three  … and so on … to infinity and beyond …

But before I open the envelope please make sure you visit my nominator: the lovely Leila at Where The Orchids Grow - we were in a swap together and she’s just so talented, with a wonderful eye for line, shape and colour … Yum.

So, without further ado …


… and in no particular order … here are three of my favourite little blogs - little only in number of followers may I say, not in talent, and boy, was it hard to choose.  I haven’t stuck to strictly quilty bloggers either - get out there and mingle!

The Coffee Lady is one of my favourite ‘snort tea through my nose’ blogs  … Damn she is witty, and oh so dry, and chronicles everything from crafting disasters and triumphs to musings on language, everyday family life, society and cake bribery. I always get excited when there’s that little (1) in my Reader.

Dawbis at Lovely Paper Blog has just, I mean like just, had a beautiful baby, Sofia Noémi.  Her paper craft is also beautiful  beyond words.   I love how she chronicles her creative process and how it all ends up so fresh and new and strikingly original.

Caroline at Toffle Craft - Now, Caroline is a shiny new blogger who works full time as a PhD student.  She’s working on her first quilt, and she can sew in straight lines, which is more than I could do when I started blogging!  So hop on over and show some support … it’s lovely to be there at the start of something … I tell you … this is one lady to watch!

Now you winners - go spread the love - and readers … go introduce yourselves!

Picture Credits: Skyscraper photo: By 慕尼黑啤酒 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or">GFDL], via Wikimedia CommonsThatched Cottage photo: By Green Lane (Own work) [">GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 17 January 2011

Hey partner! DQS10/Make Mine Modern/{Urban} Home Goods Swap

This is really a little open post to my stalker(s) secret swap partners 


on the Doll Quilt Swap 

… the Make Mine Modern Swap


and the {Urban} Home Goods Swap!  - no button yet! Sign-ups finish tomorrow for this one, so get on over!  (probably tonight as I’m in the UK!)

(although we don’t know our partners yet for the last two … )

These three swaps, featuring some truly fantabulous quilters, are all hosted on flickr, and I’m lucky to be taking part in all 3 - nothing like biting off more than you can chew eh? LOL. 

You might not be able to access the links as I think some are restricted to participants only, so, sorry if you can’t see the wonders that others are making, but I’ll post some links as we progress a bit …

In the meantime, I thought I’d post some of the mosaics that I created for inspiration for these swaps … My mosaics are usually populated by images/creations that I wish I'd made myself, wish I'd received or would like to make for someone else.   The links displayed under each mosaic will take you to that item's flickr page ... go feast your eyes!

So partner(s) … Please don’t feel restricted by them.  I would much rather you created something that has something of you in it, than made something you aren’t happy with! And PLEASE, don’t go out of your way to buy a whole heap of fabric - I’m happy with whatever is in your stash Smile 

Make Mine Modern Mosaic 
make mine modern swap mosaic_600x600

DQS10 Mosaic
dqs mosaic_600x600

 {Urban} Home Goods Swap
urban home goods mosaic_600x600

If you’re still really stumped, just have a browse through my blog and you’ll soon get to know me!  … Just go with the flow … I can’t wait to get going myself, and I’m just excited that you would take the time to make something for someone you don’t know!! Lovely!

Anyone else out there participating in any of these swaps? 

Or anyone out there who has never taken part because of fears of inadequacy? (I was in the latter camp, but this year is all about stretching myself …)

What are your experiences of swaps?

…. lucky old flea market fancy me …


Yay!  I won the giveaway over at Nichole’s blog Eleven Quilts !!

And, it’s this gorgeous Flea Market Fancy by Denyse Schmidt.  I’ve never had any of this fabric, so this is just such a lovely win.  I may have to use some in the swaps I’m doing …
Thank you so much Nichole … I’m tempted to make a little bed up under the letterbox … !

What’s your all-time (today, right?) favourite fabric?

Friday, 14 January 2011

DQS10 … Let the Panic Commence!

I thought the getting in bit was stressful … now, before I even know who my partner is, I’m stressing out about my inadequacies when compared to some of the a-ma-zing quilts that previous swaps have produced …

But, 2011 intentions include pushing myself, learning and doing … so here goes!! I’m so excited.  

Bring. It. On! 

I’m blogging (but not presenting, Yay!) at a big conference this weekend, so will be around in a few days - hopefully with some progress on dithering decision making for the Quilt of Good Intentions!

Hope your weekends are full of loveliness …

Flood Relief for Queensland

I can’t even put into words how awful this is to see from the safety of a drizzly UK.


As usual, the crafting community really pulls together and there are some amazing auctions, starting Monday 17th, going on throughout the blogolopolis and  co-ordinated by Toni at Make It Perfect, but if you just want to donate go here

I’m not going to hold an auction because I have nothing finished (I'm a one WIP at a time kinda girl!)  and a huge conference this weekend, but I have made a donation here

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

11 01 11 - It’s My Binary and I’ll be Nerdy if I Want to …

Yay!  Nerdy heaven!  1111 ... mmmm nom nom ....

It’s actually my birthday too which makes it even nicer, apart from the whole time slipping ever onward thang …

I got back from work to a little parcel I’d ordered before Christmas, from Sew Mama Sew  - Yay!  Perfect Timing!   

Some fab Patty Young Sanctuary - Citrus Scrub & Zen Garden, the wonderful grey and yellow Wishes, from Night & Day 3 by Robert Kaufman, and the lovely teal scissors from Cosmo Cricket … 

Tonight will be spent relishing an early night and nursing a hot toddy to fend off the evil and most common cold that is threatening to rain on my parade.

Night all …

Monday, 10 January 2011

Quilting Quandary

First off, let me apologise for the appalling quality of photos on my blog at the moment, but I’m down to using my phone, as my camera has decided that it’s a toaster.

Been away from the blog, cos I’ve been busy, see*
*in Jimmy Cagney voice

I’ve finished the main blocks for my Quilt of Good Intentions, but I veered away from the limited green/grey palette pretty damn quickly and decided to throw in a little more colour.  
As I’m intending to have it on my bed I was concerned that I might get bored with the green/grey thing once my crush on it diminishes.  After all, I am pretty fickle and nearly all colours look fab with grey! And I have this little panel (bottom right) from trois miettes at Spoonflower that I’ve been dying to use!

More importantly perhaps, the point of this quilt is for it to act as a kick start to my inspiration for the year. I thought a touch of paintboxery might be in order.  One day I’ll make a proper one, but this might just spur me on.
But here’s the quandary … white or grey?  These were my initial thoughts:


I think the white looks pretty fab and very grown up, but then the grey makes it pop more.  (I envisage the  grey version would be as large as the white, with squares of solid colour in the sashing, but I only had the width of fabric to lay the blocks out.) 


I've thought about not putting the central panel in if I went with the grey - I could have it on the back with some stacked paintbox coins - that way I get two quilts for one!  … what do you think?

My thoughts are to use two layers of batting and hand quilt each side separately with embroidery thread and then whack em together and do some wide straight stitch quilting. 
I’m afraid it’s all Mrs Singer can cope with, so free motion will have to wait until Damiel has his foot pedal replaced, before I embark on that little intention.  

It is another intention to finally use some white this year, which is why I’m thinking the white would be good.  Just not very practical!  The white I have is the most amazing heavy white linen that I picked up at a market for only £1.50 a metre - and it’s 2.5 metres wide!  It would be bliss on a bed.
Two hours later: I’m sulking a bit now as Mrs Singer has lost all sense of tension … sheesh, all I did was clean the discs.  How ungrateful can you get!?
3 hrs later: fixed it but not looking too consistent … grrr …
24hrs later: Back at work today - new students names to remember …  forgetting how to teach … being nerdy with computers … ah the joy of skool!
Anyway, please let me know which you think would work better, the white? or the grey?  Panel on the front?  Panel on the back? I’d really appreciate your advice.

As I’ve been making this up as I go along, I wondered if you’d like a tutorial when it’s all over?  Good idea?  Bad idea?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Follow the Bearpaw …

There’s an oh so lovely giveaway here folks …

Jo at Bearpaw has a fab blog - her craftingstitchingknitting skills are to die for, and to celebrate 100 posts she's doing a really lovely giveaway - pictured below - including some fab wool, 10 FQs of Amy Butler, Tanya Whelan and other lovely fabrics - and a beautiful framed mini quilt … 

If you’re not familiar, go check out this fantastic little house pincushion tutorialI made one for my niece for Crimbo … it was a great success and fun to make.

I’d been wondering how to post about it seeing as we're now so definitely in 2011, so here’s the perfect opp! Dontcha just love the hidden needle storage in the roof?

IMG_0908 IMG_0914 IMG_0915 IMG_0912

So get on over here and join in the fun ...

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Good Intentions

I’ve had it with the whole New Year’s Resolution thang.  No more, all that inevitable self hatred and disappointment a few weeks minutes into the year.

I start this year with a much kinder list of Good Intentions and a Quilt for me, to help reinforce them.

So, here they are … in no particular order

 Let go
Of course I’m not going to forget all the people who I’ve lost in the last year, but I am going to try to focus on remembering their vitality, not their demise.
Grieving must end.  Mourning can continue awhile.
Read more

… and I don’t mean blogs!  I’ve found it very difficult to focus on a whole book this year.  I used to get through a book a week.  

Time to buck up.


Learn More

From free motion quilting to writing new training courses via a bit of embroidery and painting. 

It’s time to learn and hone and share.

Pop over to Kellie @ 74 Lime Lane to participate even more by joining the Creative Collective ... (button on side bar -->)


Procrastinate Less

We all know it’s much less painful just to get on with the boring stuff.  I’m going to make this a mission.


Nurture Nature

I actually started blogging a couple of years ago to document my wonderful little front garden and all the veggies and fruit I grew, but this year, when my brother got ill, it all went tits up. 

This year will be a bumper crop.

Need I say more?!



Be it on or offline, I need to participate more and spectate less.

Frown less, Laugh more

(once the ribs have healed a bit!)

And here’s a sneak peek at a couple of blocks from my Quilt of Good Intentions:

P010111_10.270002-1_thumb1 P010111_10.270003-1

Fresh and zingy and very loosely based on a Yellow Brick Road pattern … In fact, I'm intentionally being unintentional!  yum!

So, what is your No.1 Good Intention for the coming year?  Do share …

1.1.11 Pedal to the Metal

Happy 2011 chaps!  I trust you had a suitably riotous time/civilised sip of champagne/nice cuppa tea and a biscuit* 
*delete where applicable 

I had a quite extraordinary New Year’s Eve.

I did a little socialising earlier in the day, but as my year had been far from meriting reflection, I decided to bow out of any mad revelry this year.  

So, I cooked a fab roast lamb, parsnip and red cabbage supper (bliss of lunh today too!) popped some fizz (Lynne over at Lily’s Quilts says her Dad calls it Fizziotherapy!)  and then settled into a relaxing time cutting & sewing a quilt for me. spent a couple of hours with a screwdriver and an increasing feeling of desperation.

10.00 pm - Damiel my beloved Novum flipped out on me - pedal to the metal with NO FOOT ON THE PEDAL!  Yup, the treadle finally gave way (after c. 62 years of action, granted) and was just stuck on GO.


Sheesh!  I’m telling you, it was scary.  He’s noisy at the best of times, being entirely metal, but this was wild!  So, I unplugged him, unscrewed the treadle, farted about a bit, put it back together and … 

11.00 pm … still stuck on GO. When the lights started to flicker in my sitting room I thought “Uh-oh … what if I were about to blow the whole street out?”  Not a good move for neighbourly love on New Year’s Eve, you’ll agree. It was like a quilter’s version of the movie Speed.

Well, I tell you, I was buggered if I was going to see in 2011 with no bloomin sewing machine, so I hauled Mrs Singer (she’s a bit of a mumsy 1970s affair) in from the hall, where she was just two steps away from being freecycled - some months ago the presser foot lever just fell out and I was quoted silly money to mend her, hence the acquisition of Damiel in the first place.


Determined not to be beaten, I took the whole front gubbins off and eventually found a little lost screw …

11.30 pm … fingers, machine and face smeared in machine grease I finally worked it out!  I refitted the lever! 

11.55 pm I tuned into the radio, ready to hear Big Ben chiming in the New Year.  I threaded her up.  She spluttered into action a tad grumpily but sewed like a dream!  (It might well be the dream of a slightly deranged menopausal woman, but hey, she’s a lot quieter than the boy racer) …
Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong!

Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong!

Happy New Year!

The moral of this tale:   Never give up on old friends - sometimes they come back into your life when you least expect it and fill your day with joy!

Mrs S and I are going to settle down with a nice cuppa celebrate with some Fizziotherapy and get re-acquainted while I sew my Quilt of Good Intentions.


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