Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Goals for 2016

Gosh; this forces me to PLAN!

Quilting is my hobby, together with embroidery and lace making; teaching Business English is my profession. The latter is full of lists: the student's starting level, envisaged final level, topics for the course, skills for each session, and on and on! These are lists I have to make, and am accountable for.

My hobby, however, can be characterised as CHAOS! I'm a list-maker, but more importantly a list-loser!

My ongoing projects from 2015.

projects listed on the left; pencil ticks to indicate worked-on status
By making a chart and pinning it to the wardrobe door I can give myself a shock when I'm not performing well and give myself a mental pat on the back when I finally finish something. Unfortunately some of these projects haven't even been started, and now probably will never be.

Here is what I hope to achieve/improve in 2016:

1. Organise my sewing space, although organising my quilting habit into less than 2 square metres of guest bedroom is tricky. More storage boxes would help, but finding somewhere to store them is the next issue. As it is the beds function as a dumping ground; expected guests causing a speedy and makeshift tidy up, followed by a week of searching for lost mislaid rotary cutter etc.

2. Finish the UFO'S, or throw/give them away. They are taking up both space and storage boxes that I need for current projects.

3.  Regularly practise FMQ.

4. Improvise in patchwork. I have enough skills to go out on a limb, on my own, without a workshop, a course or a book. The thought scares the heck out of me, but the other side of me knows that without trying, without the possibility of failure, nothing would ever be achieved, ever.

RSC QAL (top now finished): definitely not improvised, but a skill builder nonetheless: all those flying geese.

5. Fewer QAL's. I decided this year that participating in a QAL, or club is mostly a form of procrastination: although in itself productive, it's always avoiding the main issue (being creative) and yet I can't resist. I like sewing with other people, either face to face or on-line. The idea of doing the same thing as 40 or so others world-wide is both appealing and comforting. The two pictured here are exceptions: I learnt from these projects. Some of the others on my list were over before I got started, then the incentive was gone, others turned out to be "not really my thing".

Drunkard's Path QAL: Definitely a skill builder: no fear of DP blocks now!

6. Blog regularly and reply pronto to blog comments. The last couple of months I've been very slow. I need to consider how to organise my time better in general, and in this respect especially. I owe it to my readers to not just let conversations peter out.

and finally:

7. DO all of the above!

I'm linking up with:
2016PlanningParty  and  Val's Quilting Studio 

so go and check on other quilters' goals for 2016.

Happy sewing


Monday, 21 December 2015

Finish Along 4th quarter 2015: 2nd finish

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

At the beginning of October I made my list of proposed finishes.

This is really terrible - almost Christmas and only two finishes in the fourth quarter! And an almost finish!

Anyway, here is my second finish, all quilted, bound and washed, ready to be snuggled under.
Modern Maples, pattern by Amanda Jennings
After minimally quilting the leaves:

I quilted leaves in the white space. To one side of the central vein I quilted circles and on the other stippling.

Now the quilt has been washed the difference is not so clear. I then quilted swirls between the leaves and in the empty corners. The leaves subsequently got lost in the swirls! Mental note - make more contrast in the quilting. Straight lines in the background would have been better. I had intended quilting much larger swirls, but my first attempt was so uneven I unpicked it, and did a size my hands are comfortable with.

My modern maples is 60" square,
  • made from Bella solid off-white (background and backing) and prints from stash; each leaf is a different fabric
  • and sewn and quilted with Aurifil 40wt; off white in the background, and colours to match the leaves

I shall be linking up at the beginning of January with 
2015 FAL at On the Windy Sideand http://quokkaquilts.com/happy-new-year-tgiff/
 Head over there to see more wonderful finishes

And now on to the "almost finish"!
Drunkard's Path Poinsettia table topper, pattern by Anne Deister at SpringLeaf Studio
This is only a flimsy, and is unlikely to be finished before Christmas, but who knows I might get it done in the last week of the year.

It measures 36.5" square and was made in the Drunkard's Path Quilt Along at SpringLeaf Studio. I made the Drunkard's path blocks on the machine with no pins, following Leanne's excellent tutorial

Have a wonderful Christmas, whether it be white, or wet (like here!) or scorching

Happy sewing


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Lime 9-patches for RSC15

For November's colour at the RSC Angela at Soscrappy posted the colour lime green. I'd finished my lime sawtooth sampler blocks and showed them last week, but I still have some lime blocks to show.

While making the lime blocks, I used the remaining small scraps as Leaders and Enders and made 3.5" 9-patches.
lime green 9-patches
But first I had made some more from October's aqua scraps

aqua 9-patches
I still have no idea what these will become as they are very small, finishing at 3" square, but I'll just keep going next year, and see what I come up with.

This week I've done nothing to my rainbow quilt. I started quilting my modern maples and will have to finish that before returning my machine to piecing mode!.

I shall be linking up with 
RSC 15
so hop over there for some more rainbow splendour. 

Happy sewing


Friday, 27 November 2015

Finish along 4th Quarter: Finish number 1

 2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

At the beginning of October I made my list of proposed finishes.

This is my first finish of the 4th quarter:

Drawn Together; a mini quilt designed by Sarah Fielke from her book "Little Quilts".
fabric: assorted from stash and Bella solid off-white
backing and binding: Bella solid off-white
quilting thread: Aurifil 12 weight in various colours with a crewel no 9 needle on the star and Yli thread on the background triangles.
The embroidery needle came from this packet:

Question for UK friends: "How long have I had this?" (Look what it cost!)

For those of you outside the UK the abbreviation "d" in the price stands for pence in the old British monetary system which went out of use in the early 1970s. Incredibly a pristine unused packet of needles more than forty years old! I found it when looking for embroidery thread - in a squishy old paper bag, between skeins of stranded cotton - voilà! Such a useful find, but I wonder why I never opened it before now!

I'm linking up to 
which this week is being held at Quilting among the Groves. 
To see which groves and some super finishes click on the badge. 

I shall be linking up to 
2015 FAL at On the Windy Side
(click for link)
at the beginning of January.
Happy sewing


Saturday, 21 November 2015

RSC 15 week 47 Where did all the navy go?

Into the background, of course; all of it!

Every month Angela, at Socsrappy, publishes a different colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. This month's colour is lime and I've finished the lime patches. Unfortunately, before I could complete the orange alternate blocks I ran out of Bella navy blue. Well of course I have a few triangles left; the left overs from all cutting the Flying Geese, but nothing large enough to cut eight 4x4" squares and a few 2½" squares. Hence the gaps!
Tuesday, 17 November: Halt to progress! RSC 15: the blocks in rows 1 - 4 and row 7 are joined in the row; rows 5 and 6 are waiting for navy reinforcements.
I'm thinking of re-doing the dark pink block, bottom left; it looks too red, and doesn't balance the other pink block.
I intend adding a navy border and using navy for the binding. I just  hope the LQS's current roll of navy doesn't differ too much from the one they had in January!

Update Saturday morning:

It matches! The blocks are completed! I'm going to change the sawtooth star points on the dark pink block, bottom left.

I shall be linking up to 
RSC 15

on Saturday, so pop over there to see more Rainbow progress.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 14 November 2015

The last star for the RSC 15 firmament

This week Angela posted the last pattern for the 2015 Rainbow Scrap Challenge sampler quilt.

Angel Swamp Star framed by a Sawtooth Star
 This is the last star block of the sampler. Now I just have to make the lime sections of the alternate blocks and when I've added them into the rows I can add the rows together and start quilting.

I went to a patchwork workshop this last week on paper-piecing a wall hanging of interlocking coloured cubes. I enjoyed it but haven't done anything more. I'll show it when the top is finished! The participants were all sent the blank outline in advance and told to colour it in to make their own colour design. It was interesting to see how everyone had interpreted the pattern in a different way, altogether coming up with eight different designs.

I was without a proper Internet connection for several weeks, and it's still a bit shaky! I missed quite a lot of posts and wasn't able to answer comments on my blog very quickly. Although I could take a few seconds at work to check and approve comments, I couldn't take the time to answer. Sorry!

While browsing this morning I noticed that one of the posts I'd missed was Bonnie Hunter's announcement of the 2015 winter mystery. It's inspired by Italy, with a lot of red and gold (wonderful!)  and ... BROWN! Just the colour I don't have! If I make the quilt I shall be adapting it for a throw, but what a dilemma all over again: to buy brown, or not to buy brown!

I am linking up to
RSC 15
so hop over there for more lime stars and other shapes.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 7 November 2015

RSC 15 Ohio Lime

I've never been to Ohio, so I've no idea whether or not limes grow there; I suspect it's too cold, so they would only grow under glass.
Anyway,  the first block in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge  this month is the Ohio Star in lime. Each month Angela, at Soscrappy,  gives another colour for the Sawtooth Star sampler and posts the patterns for blocks to go in the centre of each Sawtooth Star. Sometimes, as now, this results in a star within a star.

Ohio Star surrounded by a Sawtooth Star
I wonder how the block would look with the Ohio star set on point. I'm somewhat mathematically challenged, but I think I might be trying that soon. In case you're interested: don't hold your breath!

There is just one more star block to make and a few alternate blocks to complete and this year's challenge will be over. I wonder what Angela has up her sleeve for next year!

I'm linking up to 
RSC 15
so click on the badge and hop over there to admire more zezty limeness!

Happy sewing


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Camera Challenge 9 - Using artificial light indoors

At The Littlest Thistle Katy sets a challenge each month to help us get to know our cameras better. Over the past nine months I have learnt a lot, but this month's challenge was really challenging! This is something I have seldom done up to now!

First a word about the artificial lighting in my apartment - it's atmospheric! In other words it's orange tinted to make the place look warm, and is pretty useless for handwork. The ceilings are quite high and the ceiling lamp in my sewing room is the equivalent of 40 watt - not bright enough even to find a dropped pin!

This very cheap Ikea lamp below is perfect and is usually hooked over my sewing machine, illuminating the fabric as I feed it through. For this exercise it is raised about 12cm courtesy of a box of fabric in order to be directed onto the subject!

This next lamp is the best in the house, if you want to see what you're doing, that is.

It belonged to my mother-in-law who went blind towards the end of her life and had this lamp with 2 small tube lights on each side of the magnifying glass (4 in all) to enable her to embroider and do crossword puzzles for a little longer. I rarely use the magnifying glass, but the lamp is perfect for the cutting table, swivels round for the ironing board and was the other half of my indoor photography lighting. I set the two lamps up opposite one another.

Unfortunately this is the best I got with these two combined and the ceiling lamp!

With this I am not satisfied!

Camera setting:
ISO 1600 (the highest value I have)
Av 4.5
Tv 1/400 (clearly much too short, but the pointer was in the middle of the scale)

A few days later I went for a second attempt. The lighting set-up was as before but this time I used flash. You probably wonder why I hadn't done that before, but thereby hangs a tale! (coming later) As I couldn't find how to use flash with manual camera setting I switched to the menu setting "macro".

Better, but I still don't like the dark shadows.
Camera setting:
ISO 400
The objects are lying on a white A4 sheet of paper, but I find the shadows annoying and as for that white sheet of paper ...!

Part of the problem for me is that I always jump when the flash unit jumps up on top of the camera! And I mean that literally. I know it's coming, but the loud noise always takes me by surprise and wobbly photos are the result. This was the umpteenth attempt and the only sharp one. I really don't like using flash, but it's there so I should learn how to use it.

I'm not going to buy proper photography lights because I have nowhere to store them, so I will have to investigate this combination further. Maybe a second Ikea lamp would help (€9.-) Up to now I've only taken photos indoors where there was enough daylight. I've avoided artificial lighting, and it shows!

I'm linking up with The Littlest Thistle 
Littlest Thistle Camera Challenge 2015
so click on the button and go and see more indoor photos.

Happy snapping


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Browned off! RSC 15 October

I'm not really browned off, but brown is finished!

For October in the 2015 edition of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Angela at Soscrappy chose brown.

3" 9-patch blocks - leaders and enders
This was all the brown fabric I had; definitely not enough to make a 12" sawtooth star block. Instead of brown I used lavender and purple for the October sampler blocks (I showed them before)

During this past week I remade my January blocks:

in aqua.
I started putting the row together before I thought to photograph them; here they are with the adjacent alternate blocks
They are the last two blocks on the ends of the third row, next to the light blue.

Then I had some more 3" 9-patch blocks, made as leaders and enders with the smallest remaining pieces of aqua.

That was all the sewing I had time for this week: I've been busy at work, and it's been like a mad-house here at home too!

I shall be linking up with socrappy for the
RSC 15
 Click on the badge for real chocolate and espresso blocks there.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 17 October 2015

Brown October for RSC 15, and other colours

For this month's colour on the rainbow Scrap Challenge at Soscrappy Angela chose brown. I have practically no brown, and certainly not enough for a sampler block, or two. So ...

these are all my brown blocks to date!
Two 9-patches, 3"square
and here is the top row of my sampler quilt

Instead of brown I used lavender. One of the lavender blocks (the one on the left) I had already made in the "purple month", but after a bit of reworking the alternate block I'm calling it lavender and made this month's blocks in purple and lavender:

Kick in purple and Doris's star in lavender, both set in a sawtooth star.
I think I should have edited the colour balance on these photos, because the purple here is far too blue; the background blue is over-riding the red-purple.

Last week I received a package from Quiltmaker:

Quilty treats.

won in the Back to School quilt draw, and an email from Angela saying that an orange bundle was winging its way to me! And it's not even my birthday! Thank you Angela.

I've made no progress on the "Modern Maples".

Modern maples; pattern by Amanda Woodward-Jennings
After a journey to my LQS this week especially to buy Bella off-white for the backing, I returned with only some Aurifil 12 wt cotton and a book. They had run out of Bella off-white! I didn't have quite enough at home, and not enough light fabric for a patched backing that wouldn't show through onto the front. I think winter will be upon us before my autumn quilt is finished!

I'm using the 12 wt cotton  to hand-quilt my "Drawn Together" mini quilt:

Drawn Together; pattern Sarah Fielke
I must have been feeling rich this week, because I bought two new books: "A Quilter's Mixology" by Angela Pingel and "The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt". I can't think of  two more dissimilar books. The first after I saw Ruth Bourke's beautiful sewing machine cover and I've already fallen for the "Mod Garden Lap Quilt" as well as the "Ornamental Quilt" (Ruth's inspiration), although goodness knows when I'll be able to start making it!

The second book was the one I brought home from the LQS because I've signed up for their Farmer's Wife Club, and I will be following the online groups as well. I'm thinking of making the blocks completely in solids. Is anyone out there making these blocks? What sort of fabrics are you using?

I shall be linking up with 
RSC 15

so pop in over there and see those sampler blocks, and other things, in brown.

Happy Sewing


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

2015 Finish Along: Q4 proposed finishes

  2015 Finish-Along

My projected finishes for the last quarter of 2015 are:

1.     Modern Maple throw 

is pieced and assembled and waiting for quilting.

2.     Mini Quilt

pattern: "Drawn Together" by Sarah Fielke

The top is finished and waiting for quilting. This will be hand quilted with Yli thread, and Aurifil 12 thread to accentuate the stars.  

3.     Sew Together bag

Sew Together Bag
pattern by So Dememted; photo: Craftsy;
This has been on my list before, and the only thing preventing me from starting is that I need to buy fusible interfacing that is firmer than the type I have now. I need to make a trip to the city (which isn't far - that's no excuse!) and REMEMBER to buy it. Having written this the battle is half over!

4.     Mola cat 



Started in a workshop in September, I need to finish the sewing and devise some use for it. It rather depends on the latter whether  or not this gets finished.

5.     Origami flower

I started this in a workshop in August, and the same goes for the origami flower as for the Mola cat. Really it's finished except for finding a use for it, or a way to display it.

6.     Poinsettia table topper - Drunkard's path 

Drunkard's path QAL at SpringLeaf Studios
I have two of these 16" blocks made and another two to make, assemble and quilt.
Deadline: Christmas!

This all looks achievable within three months doesn't it?

I'm linking up with Adrianne On the Windy Side so click on the link to see what other projects should be finished before 1 January 2016.

Happy Sewing