little squares

Now that my quilting marathon is finished, I’m back to some patchwork.  Just now this involves nothing but piecing little squares together.

A week ago I went back to my Tokyo Subway Map quilt – I started this during the Oh Fransson! quilt-a-long in the summer but fell behind as we moved house.  I’m trying to do a block every day or so with the aim of quilting it next month, ready for a another wave of  family coming to stay.

So far I’ve ten of the 25 blocks done and sewn together, and I love the overall effect.

As usual Penny jumped on it…

Elizabeth Hartman is giving away the original Tokyo Subway Map to raise money for the relief efforts in Japan, please go and have a look.

My other project will be my biggest quilt yet – a variation of Bricks and Stones from Red Pepper Quilts.  I bought the pattern as inspiration, and plan on making it four times the size, with the idea that the quilt pattern is one corner.  So really, I’m making this entire pattern four times and then sewing them together with the borders going right the way round the edges.  This is another semi-secret project until it’s gifted at the end of April, so this is all I’ll show just now –

I think I underestimated how long piecing over 900 little squares would take.  This isn’t going as quickly as I’d like, this section though is the majority of the quilt though as well as the most time consuming.  That’s what I keep telling myself anyway…

Although I seem to blog about nothing about quilting, I do still knit!  I’ve been busy working on a new sample for work, but should hopefully have some finished things to talk about next week.

pink pansy quilt

Finished!  And by that I mean that even the loose threads are sewn in…  We’re still lacking in sunshine here but at least its stopped raining so a misty photoshoot will have to do.

This felt like the quickest quilt ever, I put the top and back together in an afternoon when I was unwell last summer, then put it away and forgot about it.  Then a couple of weeks ago after some free-motion practice on Penny’s quilt it was time to try it on something big…

This is the fabric that started it all – some Liberty (I think) from Ysolda.  I had a teeny piece of this, and at the time this pattern based on little 4-piece blocks was a popular sample in my quilt shop.  The original was made entirely of different prints with pansies on, and this lovely fabric made me want to try it too.  I also had a large amount of pink fabric at the time (I am officially naming last summer the Summer Of Pink 2010).

I wanted to do some straight line quilting too, so went for a spiral round the border.  I love the sharp points this made in the corners.  For this part though something wasn’t quite right with the tension so little dots of the pink thread I was using in the bobbin poked up to the top.  I really liked it though so left it alone – I had looked originally for a very pale creamy pink to use here but hadn’t been able to find one and this kind of gives the same kind of effect.

Here’s the back –

A little squinty but overall I’m happy.  I think this had something to do with a blunt rotary cutter combined with an illness which meant I wasn’t supposed to go outside (to the quilt shop, or anywhere else), so I might have just folded the back in half and cut it roughly with scissors.  (Sssshhhhh…..).  The pink backing fabric is a Rowan/Westminster Fibers one I think which I bought at Twist Fibre Craft in Fife to make a skirt but chickened out.

I was really indecisive about the binding.  I wanted to keep it pink because the quilt is for someone who loves pink as much as I did in the Summer Of Pink 2010.  But I struggled to find something that was a nice contrast with the front, and with the back too.  In the end I caved and went for a chocolate brown solid.

It feels so good to get something big like this finished.  It’s already hidden away for Christmas so I’m hoping that if the person it’s for reads this they’ll have forgotten about it by the time they unwrap it and be surprised.

And an obligatory dog photo as Penny investigates…


finishing touches

My pink quilt is almost finished and if the sun comes out tomorrow I’ll get some photos finally and call it done.  I’ve decided who its to be given to at Christmas so this morning I made a little label for the back.

I hand embroider my quilt labels, even though they look like they might have been done by a 5-year-old, I like how they look.  In my old quilting class the ladies would rush next door to the machine embroidery shop during classes to get their labels made.  My lovely sewing machine does do text in some nice fonts, but something about the hand-stitched letters makes it feels more personal, and more me.

a little demolition and a lot of cooking

After arriving home from a relaxing few days up north, I got up on Saturday morning to find that work was suddenly about to start on our kitchen.  This is the last big indoor project for now and involves taking down a wall and a horrible fake cork ceiling.  The sudden work, combined with being more than a little tired from too many late nights stressed me a little, so I hid upstairs and cut up 961 two inch squares for a new quilt.

Now the rubble and dust has been cleared away, the kitchen ceiling is now about 12 inches higher, and the removal of part of a wall lets in sooo much more light.  (We had hoped that the whole wall would come down but it turns out that part of it is ‘structural’ and therefore essential if we want the upstairs floor to remain upstairs.  How annoying.)

The last week has been very inspiring food-wise as my mum has re-discovered her love of cooking and tried out lots of new vegetarian recipes on me.  I pulled out my favourite ever cookbook today, Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook.  Tonight we’ll be having Sag Aloo…

Lemon Posset…

and I made some plum muffins because I felt bad about emptying the biscuit tin…

outside and inside

Within about an hour of arriving I took Penny to the beach, this is one of the first times she’s ever been I think.  Generally she has quite a worried nature and is a bit unsure of new things, waves included…

One thing she is sure of though, is that chasing birds is very exciting.  She likes to watch them for a bit first before pouncing.  Wings give them a pretty big advantage though, so don’t worry!

Indoors though things are nice and calm.  I’ve been working on some hand sewing in the evenings and should get both my quilts bound before we get home.  I never look forward to binding quilts, but just because I forget how quickly it goes if you actually sit down and do it.

And when Penny’s not on the beach, she’s at my feet here…

the vegetable garden

I’m afraid there wasn’t much crafting this weekend, apart from a little sock knitting and some late night spinning.  We spent a lot of yesterday outside in the garden clearing an overgrowth patch and then moving our chickens into it before I build their permanent run around it next weekend.  (Can you spot the dust-bathing chicken?  I love it when they do that.)

This is right next to where the vegetable garden will be, which in my head I picture as a tidy but lush and leafy place, covered in edible lovelies.  Hopefully by the summer this is what we’ll see, rather than a big mess with big piles of rotting grass, a broken greenhouse frame and some old tyres.

There was obviously a vegetable garden here at one time as I’ve found little paths running through it and along the edges of the beds.

There are already things growing.  There is an enormous patch of rhubarb (we saw these plants at their leafy-biggest last year when we came to view the house), wild strawberries and flowers too.

Tomorrow though Penny and I travel up north so the garden will have to wait for a while.  Being able to work from anywhere has some fantastic advantages – beach walks and sea air! getting fed cake! knitting and sewing with my mum!  Hurray!

a quilting marathon

I have a large quilting project looming, so before I get started next week I wanted to try and clear a couple of current projects to make some room.  Earlier this week I had the house to myself for a couple of days, so I dragged my sewing machine and bits out of my craft room and down to the dining room table.

The quilt hanging over the back of the door is the one made from my Moda Freebird fabric, but it’s a gift for someone who I think reads my blog so that’s as much as I’m going to show just now!

The big pile of pink was supposed to be a Christmas gift but it didn’t quite happen in time…  Nevertheless, it is now quilted and almost ready to be given next time.  It’s the most heavily quilted piece I’ve done with lots of free-motion and straight lines spiraling round the border – I love it.

I’m glad I got some practice in with Penny’s quilt first as quilting this way feels so much more natural now.  I find it quite hard on my hands and wrists, though I’m sure this is to do with my self-taught technique.  I think I’ll find a more comfortable way eventually.

I even managed to sew the binding onto both.  I have another trip up north to my parents planned next week (with Penny this time, so there will be dog walking on the beach!), and I’m going to take both quilts up with me and try to get the binding hand-sewn down away from the distraction of my sewing machine, we’ll see…  This is going to be a busy month, my basket of projects with March deadlines is overflowing already!