Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Now, the party's over ...

.... and I guess that today is the wrap-up post for the 2013 Christmas Quiltalong and Challenge.  Boohoo.

Happy Hazel and Jolly Jo have been the most wonderful hostesses this year, and have given us lots of fun each month as they invited us to join them.  There have been games, party foods, drinks and even some competitions and I'm sure you would like to join me in saying thank you to them both as we put away our party hats and streamers.

Thanks too, to everyone who joined in the challenge I set this year.  I have enjoyed seeing the quilts that people came up with.  and if anyone missed them, you can go here to see the entries.  As I promised, I asked Mr Random to select a winner from among the entries and he chose
and number 8 is .............

Congratulations Sunny, and thank you all again for taking part in the challenge.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Music ...

Here's some traditional Christmas music to listen to while you are browsing through the great Christmas Challenge entries, which you can find here.

Just in case "traditional" isn't your favourite, here's a very new Christmas song, that will bring back memories to those of us who were either kids in the 80s (I wish) or parents of the kids of the 80s.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Christmas QAL & Challenge

It's here.  It's now.  What is it?  It's the Grand Parade of Christmas Challenge quilts we've all been working on this year.  You know, that easy-peasy challenge that someone dreamed up to make a small Christmas quilt without using red or green. Well, today's the day to show the world your creations by simply linking up  here:

You can link your entry up to the end of Monday 16 December, and on Tuesday I will use Mr Random Generator to choose an entry to win a prize.  It's easy to do this.  Just write a post about your quilt, you know, things like how you made it, where the idea came from, etc, and put your blog address in the link so we can all come and visit and admire your quilt.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go out as I am due to stand outside one of our large supermarkets for a few hours, with a collection tin in my hand.  I'm hoping the festive shoppers will feel generous and put lots of money in to help our local hospice.  I'll be back at lunch time, and will link up my own entry then.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Scrappy's Christmas Challenge

This is my friend Scrappy's entry into the Christmas Challenge.  I'm posting it on my blog, as she does not yet have a blog of her own.

Anyway, as soon as she heard the details of the Challenge, an idea popped into her head, and this is the result.  Her vision was a gift box bursting open with all sorts of sewing items flying out, and who wouldn't love a Christmas box just like this one?

This is a completely original design idea, with Google helping her to find a picture of a box that she could base her design on, and the gifts are all applique, embroidery, etc, all embellished with buttons.  Here are a couple of close ups - I have to say, I love the books.  Wonder why?

I can't remember the exact dimensions of the quilt, but I was there when Scrappy cut the background fabric, so I can assure you that it is well within the size restrictions somebody set for this challenge.

I think this is a brilliant entry.

Challenge entry no. 2 by Bilbo and I

... or Kinky Boots, as we call this quilt!

On the same visit, Bilbo and I then started to get carried away (or do I mean we "should have been" carried away?)

We were talking about the Challenge and started thinking about Christmas songs, and there was one we both liked was "When Santa Got Stuck Up the Chimney".  We then applied some lateral thinking to it (and no, we hadn't started on the red wine at that point), and we thought how funny it would be if Santa was wearing his very best gold high-heeled boots at the time, so, here is our version

This little quilt did a few miles up and down the motorway between us as we each did parts of it. It measures 18" x 20" to the lowest point of the snow.  

Challenge entry no. 1 by Bilbo & I

Ok, well, as the person who set the challenge, it was only right that I entered too wasn't it?  So here is my version of a Christmas tree

The idea behind this was that I really wanted to have a go at shadow trapunto, where you trap wadding under voile, sew round the shape you want, trim away the excess wadding, then lay that all on a background fabric and sandwich and quilt it in the normal way.  The tree itself was adapted from a design by Ann Lauer, which I found in a book called quilting for Christmas  

I started this when I was visiting my friend Bilbo, and I had lots of fun playing in her stash to find exactly the right background fabric.  All went really well until I decided to free motion quilt it.  FMQ is definitely NOT my thing, and some of you may remember me whining and whinging about not being able to do it a couple of months ago.  In the end, dear Bilbo took pity on me and rang and just said "send it to me, I'll do it".  I didn't need telling twice, it was in an envelope and winging it's way to her in a very short space of time.  She did a great job of the quilting, as you can see here

with big stipples round the outside and some tiny pebbles inside thee branches, which has really made them pop.  Thank you very much Bilbo for doing that for me. Although I have not shown a uler against it, this measures 16"  x 22".

To Link up your entry, you need to go to this post, here.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Do you remember ...

...  me telling you about the lovely present I was given by Lynn's grand-daughters before I came home?  Here we are just after they had almst reduced me to tears by giving me this

Well, I have now had it framed, but Mr Fixit hasn't quite got round to hanging it yet for me, but I thought I'd show you what it will look like on this wall.  Isn't it great?  It's a very special memory to me of a very special holiday.  Thank you again for this.

Oh, and after I'd taken the picture, I looked to one side of the sofa to see .....

this scary bear who came home with me as a gift from Naughty Notorious Nancy and her husband. He even wrote me a note to explain that he was practicing roaring in a British accent so no-one would notice that he had come over to the British Isles!  What a clever bear.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Christmas QAL ...

... while QuiltSue's decorating the blog ready for Christmas, we thought we'd just pop in to remind you that next weekend is the final Christmas QAL party for 2013.

We think Quilt Sue is going to be making some of our favourite biscuits.

We think there might be some music.

We think she might share some interesting snippetts about Christmas

We absolutely know there's going to be lots of eye-candy.  How do we know that last bit?  Cos she told us it's going to be the Linky party for the very easy Christmas challenge she issued at the beginning of the year.

So, if you've been working on the challenge, don't forget to get your photos taken and your blog post all ready to link next week but if you don't have a blog, just send them to us and we'll post them on here for you.  We'd love to see all your quilts, even if they're not yet finished (and there's even going to be a giveaway for the entrants).  Oh, and don't forget you can go here to get all the background information about this very easy challenge.

QuiltSue said she's putting the Linky up next Saturday, and we'll make sure she doesn't forget.  We don't think she will though, cos she's already got out the Christmas music CD's and will be decorating the house this week ready for everyone to come and join us.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Can anybody help ...

... my father has been sitting thinking about meals he used to have when he was young. This time he has a craving for matzo balls.  I can remember having them too, with chicken soup of course, every time we went to see my grandmother and I also loved them.  The problem is that Dad wants some and I don't have a recipe.  I've found several online and tried them, but, although some have been close, none of them are quite right.  Dad's family are from Russia and Poland, so I'm wondering if there are any special recipes from that part of Europe? Is any one able to help? Please?

(Clip art licensed from the clip art gallery at DiscoverySchool.com)

By the way, why are they spelled Matzo and pronounce Motza, or is that just my family?

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Confessions ...

... of a Country Charmer addict.

I loved this block so much, I made another quilt.  Actually, this was all Naughty Notorious Nancy's fault, as I'll explain.  Just after the quilt-along started, NNN (as I'll call her cos it's quicker than saying Naughty Notorious Nancy all the time,) and I were having one of our email conversations one day and she said wouldn't it be fun to make a second smaller version in Christmas colours.  I agreed that it would, never dreaming what was coming next.  Am I naive sometimes, or what?  Yep, she issued a challenge to me to make another one and she would too.  Well, I'm not one to ignore a dare like this, so I agreed.  We thought it'd be fun to keep it secret from Lynn until today, and reveal our "Mission Impossibles" during the Grand Parade, so here, without further ado is my secret challenge version

As you can see, I decided to make a Christmas topper this time with just 5 blocks, and to set them on point.  My friend Bilbo had joined in when this QAL started cos she loved the quilt too, but she had not been able to keep up due to demands of her garden, etc. Then one day, I showed her my drawing of this version, and she loved it, so she decided to get going again and make a similar version, which you can see on her blog.  

So, as you can see, NNN has a lot to answer for, and now I'm waiting to see if she managed to take up her own challenge, when she finally gets up.

Now here's another photo, this time being beautifully modeled by my little gingerbread friends. Yes, I should have smoothed the borders out properly before I took this photo, but it was late, I was tired, etc, etc ....

Remember, be warned, if you're talking to her, NNN is obviously the one who always got all her friends into trouble when  she was at school!

Country Charmer ...

... Woohoo, it's today, it's today.  Can you tell I'm excited?  Today is the day when we get to see some of the beautiful Country Charmer quilts that have been made this year.

Before I show mine, I'll give a little background.  Lynn from Sew'n Wild Oaks designed this quilt last year, and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the design.  I was determined that I was going to make my own version one day and then I had an email from Lesley, the Cuddle Quilter, saying that she was thinking of running a quiltalong this year to make it.  Well, that was all I needed, so I was immediately on board.  Lesley's idea was that she wanted it to be a very easy going affair where we could all work at our own pace and report once a month by joining the Linky-parties she held. So Lesley,our Laissez-faire Leader set us all on the road to completing a beautiful quilt.  Lovely Lynn, the designer had written wonderful instructions and even provided block layout sheets to make it easy for a scatterbrain like me to keep all 53 pieces required for one block under control.  Lynn has also been with us every step of the way, and posting handy tips and hints for us all on her blog.  Thanks to both these wonderful ladies, I now have a quilt (top) that I love.

I have asked Santa if I could have an early Christmas present of some 48 hour days, so that I could get this quilted, but I obviously haven't been good enough this year, cos that hasn't happened.  Now I'll just stop chattering and show you my version of it.

As you can see, I decided to go "off-piste with my outer border and do a controlled scrappy piano key version.  I did that to use up some of the small scraps I had left from the quilt, and I am a bit scared that might be a sign that I could be turning into a scrappy quilter!

Here's another photo, just because this is my blog, so I can!

I love this quilt, and can't wait to get it finished.  Thanks Lesley and Lynn for running this for us, it's been fun.  Now I'm off here, to see all the other quilts in the parade.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving ...

Oops, important update.  The Country Charmer parade is on Saturday, 30 November, and not tomorrow.  That gives you all time to do your Black Friday shopping then.

... Macy's may have their Thanksgiving Parade today, but did you know there's another important parade happening tomorrow?

Yes, its the final parade of our Country Charmer quilts.  Lesley the Cuddle Quilter has led a quilt-along this year, for people making the quilt which was designed by Lynn.  It has been a very easy going quilt-along, where we all worked at our own pace and where Lynn was giving us great tips along the way about such things as fabric choices, etc.  To see all the great quilts that people around the world have been making, just go to Lesley's place tomorrow and follow the Linkies.  I promise there will be some great quilts to look at.  By the way, not all the quilts will be completely finished, ie mine isn't, but at least I did get the top completed in time.

Finally, Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my American friends

Monday, 25 November 2013

Finished, Nearly Finished and ...

... Not Finished, but Getting There.

OK, you're wondering what on earth I'm wittering on about now I bet, so I'll explain, in reverse order:

Not Finished, but Getting There is my Heartfire quilt designed by Lynn.  I have all the blocks sewn into rows, and some of the rows sewn together, and here it is

Nearly Finished is my Country Charmer top.  The grand parade is over at Cuddly Lesley's, on 30 November.  My top is not quilted yet, but it is finished for now.

Finished is my entry for the Christmas QAL challenge - you know, the one where we make a quilt on the theme of Christmas without using red or green.  The binding's on, and I'm ready for the Grand Parade which will be here, over the second weekend in December (on 14 -15 December).  Do you want to see the finished quilt now?  OK, here it is

So I've been busy, but there will be no more progress on these cos the postman brought me some yummy fabrics today and I have some Christmas presents to make with them.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Anything Lynn can do ...

... I can do too.  So here's a photo of some of my Heartfire blocks with the  background triangles attached.  I am using a different background to Lynn, and I think they both work well.

You remember I was appliqueing a sort of red English rose, which is my national flower, on some blocks?  Well here is another block, but this one has a representation of a yellow California poppy.   I am going to scatter 5 roses and 5 poppies around the quilt.

I thought that it would be fun to reflect both Lynn's and my countries. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Oooh look ...

... what my friend Gail has done.

(Gail is Lynn's sister, and we became good friends while I was staying with Lynn.)  Anyway, Gail decided to join my 3D Noughts and Crosses class that I taught while I was in California, and this is her quilt so far.  I am not usually a fan of batiks, but these are just gorgeous, and you really do get the 3D effect and if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will also see just how perfect her piecing is, every pointy bit is beautifully pointy.  I know that Gail likes it, and I think it's fantastic, so I asked if I could post the picture on my blog as Gail doesn't have one of her own (yet).  I can't wait to see this with it's borders on too, but meanwhile, I love it just as it is.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Applique? ...

... Me?  Never.  It's a well known fact that I don't do applique.  Actually maybe that should read that "I can't do applique".  But after my holiday with Lynn, who is the Queen of Applique I reckon, now I can do it.  While we were staying at the cabin, in order to distract me from bears and other marauding wild animals, one day Lynn volunteered to give Nancy and I a lesson on her method of doing it.  I don't think she knew what she was letting herself in for, but we certainly had fun, learnt a lot and laughed until our sides were aching. You can read about it here, if you want to.  So after that lesson I was a little bit hooked and decided to customise some of my Heartfire blocks by appliqueing my version of a red English rose in the centre.  This is what my very first ever applique block looks like
and this is how far I've got so far with these blocks
I think I love them more each time I add a completed block to the collection.

Anyway, the whole point of this chatter about applique is to tell you that I am soon going to be embarking on a serious project.  It's going to be a table runner, using part of Lynn's pattern, Harvest of Hope, and it will be the top part, which Lynn shows here, and hopefully will look something like this picture, (which I've once again stolen from Lynn's blog!)
Knowing that I'm not very well-endowed in the scrap department, she decided to raid her own supplies to send me these beauties
Thank you Lynn, I can hardly wait to get started.

While I'm saying thank you. I want to also thank Ann from Hudson Valley Quilts, who recently had a give away in conjunction with her sponsor, Cuts of Cotton, and I was the lucky winner of these gorgeous fabrics.  Thank you so much Ann, and Cuts of Cotton.
I don't know yet what I will do with them, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they don't show up in a certain applique table runner soon!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Christmas QAL post 3

With a little help from my friends, I'm sewing today.

So far I've put the binding on my Challenge quilt, cut some Heartfire strips, and drawn out a couple of things in EQ7 that I want to make as gifts and now, oh dear, what a shame, I think I need to do some (more) fabric shopping.

I hope everyone else is having a good day too.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Christmas QAL post 2

... There has been no quilting whatsoever here today I'm sorry to say.  I never did find the missing pattern, and I think the reason is that I did not buy it!  It was a different one which I had purchased. Doh!!!  By the time I realised that, and bought and downloaded the pattern I wanted,  it was almost dinner time.

Oh, and yes, in true Christmas QAL tradition, my dinner did include alcohol. This time we had Beef in Ale cooked in the slow cooker.

 Then I treated myself to a little retail therapy, of the quilting type, of course and now it is past 8.00 pm and I am going to sit in front of the TV and watch the annual Festival of Remembrance on TV.  I must make sure I have some paper hankies nearby, it always makes me cry, especially at the end when they play the Last Post and poppies fall from the ceiling.
Tomorrow I WILL sew.  After all, apart from anything else, I do have a certain Christmas Challenge quilt to put the binding on.

Christmas QAL post 1

My day so far has not been very festive.  It's gone like this

3.00 am Wake up
3.30 am get up
5.30 am Go back to bed
6.00 am Fall asleep
7.00 am Get up, shower, etc.
8.00 am Start housework so I have an early start on Christmas QAL things
9.15 am Take Mrs Nomad and Professor into big scary city
10.00 am Housework
11.00 am Collect Mrs Nomad from big scary city
11.30 am Have coffee
11.45 am Put dinner in slow cooker
12.00 onwards Search for epattern I bought last year and downloaded.
2.15 pm Still looking!

Happy flipping Christmas everyone.

Don't forget to go here where you can see what our hostess, Happy Hazel and the other guests are up to during the course of the weekend.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Yoohoo ...

... have you remembered what this weekend is?

It's the start of the penultimate Christmas QAL weekend 2013.  Our hostess this month is Happy Hazel, so to join in all you do is hop over here and sign in with Mr Linky who will be there waiting for us in the morning.

I'm not sure what Hazel has planned for us, but there has been mention of chocolate (yay), jingle bells (yippee) and running shoes (whaaaat?).

So come and join the fun starting tomorrow.  after  all, there's only

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

It's not my fault ...

... I blame Naughty Nancie!  A while ago she dared me to do something.  Now I'm never one to turn away from a dare or a challenge, so I agreed.  Here's a clue

Bet you can't guess what I'm up to can you?  All I know is that this is what I feel like at the moment 

with all the other things I want to do (like Heartfire) or should do (such as Country Charmer, Christmas Challenge, etc). Ho hum.  It's Naughty Nancie's fault, not mine!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Did you know ...

... that there is currently a charity event going on in the quilting bloggers community?

SewCalGal is organising this event in order to try and raise at least $3,500, and 100% of all donations will go to the four charities that are being highlighted.  There is a raffle with some wonderful prizes and also an auction, so you could help a charity and yourself all at the same time.  SewCalGal hopes you will take the time to visit the bloggers who are passionate about their favorite charity and who are sharing insights with you about them on their blogs:

  1. Marjorie's Quilting Bee, an advocate for Hope for HH
  2. Green Fairy Quilts, an advocate for the Green Fairy Quilts Charity
  3. Jaybird Quilts, an advocate for Alex's Lemonade Stand is Fighting Childhood Cancer, One Cup At A Time
  4. Lilypad Quilting, an advocate for the Greenville Humane Society
For more information on how to donate and how you could win a wonderful prize, etc, just pop over to SewCalGal's blog, here.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Heartfire, Country Charmer, Christmas Challenge and Pinterest ...

... Lynn did warn me that making the Heartfire blocks were addictive.  She's so right!  Here are my blocks so far:
Like Lynn, I am using Moda's Midwinter Reds to make my quilt, but I have also decided to add applique to the centres of some blocks.  Here you can see I have already done that to two blocks, and have another one
ready.  Actually I have about 4 ready on thinking about it, but those blocks are too modest to show themselves in public until they are properly dressed!  My original plan was to applique all the block centres, but I have changed my mid and will just do some, which will be placed fairly randomly throughout the top. (Well, as randomly as a control freak can do!)  Have I mentioned recently that I LOVE this pattern and these fabrics?

Much as I want to carry on with these today, I really MUST get back to my Country Charmer quilt. 
I am one of the people who asked Lesley, who has been running this QAL, to continue, and have the final show of quilts at the end of November, as I have slipped behind a bit.  I was ready to add the borders to mine, when I decided to go off-piste with them, which meant that I needed to buy more fabrics.  I bought some while I was in the US last month, and then I bought some more yesterday, so I really have no excuse now for not getting the top finished.

On thinking about it, I also need to get my Christmas Challenge quilt finished too.  
Thanks to Bilbo realising how useless I am at freemotion quilting, she "volunteered" to do that part for me, and she brought it back with her when she came a-visiting last weekend, so I just need to add the binding.

Now for some housekeeping.  If you hover over my photos now, you will see that a handy-dandy bright red "P" (P for Pin it) button pops up. I had blocked pinning for some time as I had concerns about copyright issues, but it seems that Pinterest have changed their T & Cs now, so I am happy for anyone to pin from my blog, but please, respect copyright and credit my blog if you do so.  Thank you.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Self discipline ...

... that's what I haven't got.  You remember my intention to prepare all the applique flowers before I actually start making my version of Lovely Lynn's Heartfire design?  Well, sorry.  I just couldn't resist, and this is what I did this afternoon.
Obviously, these are blocks with fussy cut centres, and aren't they just lovely?  The pattern is great and so the blocks just went together like a dream.  I think I love this pattern.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

When I'm in the kitchen ...

I'm a very tidy cook.  Look
This is what my worktop looks like when I'm making soup.  See how tidy everything is NOT!! I just hope my Very Special Visitors appreciate what I've been going through to prepare for their visit this weekend.

Meanwhile, I've just popped over to visit Lovely Lynn, here and she's just made me green with envy.  You remember I told you that I was planning to make her Heartfire pattern, using Midwinter Red fabrics I bought when I was with her?  Well, being clever (haha) I thought it would be fun to applique a flower in the centre of the blocks but, since I am new to this, it is taking me for.e.ver to prepare my flowers.  Meanwhile Lynn has already got at least three-quarters of her blocks finished from the look of it, and they are just gorgeous. Here's a photo I've just stolen from Lynn's blog, without her permission.
I hope she doesn't mind, but if you want to see more of her blocks, you'll have to go over to her place.  Go ahead, I'll wait while you pop over there.  See why I am jealous?  I can't wait to start mine.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Look ...

... what I've been doing today.
Thanks to Lovely Lynn's lesson that I mentioned a couple of days ago, I now know how to prepare applique, so I've decided to add some flowers to my Heartfire blocks as I make them.  So far, I've prepared the 3 shapes you can see in the picture.  Before that, I did 2 others in some scrap fabrics, but I'm not showing you those!  If I add the flowers to all the blocks I will need 39 I think, and these 3 took me several hours, so it might be some while before I have done them all.  They're not perfect I know, but not too bad for my first attempts.  Hopefully I'll get quicker too?

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Well, Lynn asked for it ...

Lynn's comment on my previous post, which said "I wish you could post laughter!", followed by an email from Nancy saying "something tells me if you can find clipart that does backflips to post that you can also figure out how to post laughter!" seemed to me to be a challenge.

So here it is... laughter

and just in case that didn't set you laughing, you could always try this instead

Friday, 18 October 2013

Shopping, winning and lessons

I have realised that I didn't show you what I bought while I was on holiday, so here we are.
I bought a complete FQ bundle of Midwinter Reds and I also got some additional yardage in the same line.  I knew immediately I saw it what I was going to do with this.  I am going to use Lynn's Heartfire pattern, which I have loved for a long time.

I also bought these 2 FQ's which I need for the borders for my Country Charmer quilt.

When I got home, I had a squishy envelope waiting for me.  At our last Christmas QAL, Happy Hazel had a quiz for us, and I was the clever-clogs (Hazel's word, not mine) who won.  The envelope contained this lovely bundle of FQs.
The colours are not too good in the photo, but they are lovely pinky-orangy grey colours.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but I'll think of something.  Thanks so much Hazel.

Now for the "lessons" referred to in the title of this post.  While we were staying at the cabin, Lynn "volunteered" to teach Nancy and I how to applique.  The afternoon was absolutely hilarious (and I hold Mr Joe entirely responsible for the laughter) and after Lynn showed us how to make a beautiful pumpkin, it was our turn.

Now I'm not saying who got glue in places where glue shouldn't be, and nor am I saying who might have tried to swap her slightly lopsided pumpkin for the teacher's when she wasn't looking, but I will say it was Nancy's fault that I tried to do the swap and I will also say that we had loads of fun and laughter.

Meanwhile, my Ladies in Waiting sat waiting very patiently for their dinner.
09 10