April sunshine

The sun has been shining the last few days.  It feels like spring is finally here!  We've been busy in the garden, it's so overgrown.  There has been plenty of rain and mild weather from autumn through winter and it shows.  Springy, green branches are reaching high, seeking the warmth of the sun.  We've been cutting back, digging and planting.  It's only a small garden, but there's so much to do!  I call it my little 'pizza slice', because of its shape.  Yesterday I finally put some mangetout and beans in the ground.  Boy helped me and we built a new defence against the slugs.  A few years ago we built an elaborate slug defence system, but they still grated our seedlings down to the ground within days.  So there was great excitement this morning that the beans were still there, no holes in the leaves!  This time we scattered dried cypress needles all around the little plants, fingers crossed.  The rhubarb however is a dream.  It's an easy, no fuss plant. Ours is in its third year and juicy pink stalks are appearing already.  If we had more space I'd plant another one!

I made meringue for the first time.  31 years old and I had never made meringue before.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  It's amazing the amount of meringue you get from just 4 egg whites.  

*Meringue: in a clean metal bowl beat 4 egg whites, once you have soft peaks slowly add 1 cup of white sugar whilst still beating the eggs.  Fold in a teaspoon of white vinegar and half a spoon of corn flour, using a plastic spatula.  Gently put the mixture on to a tray with baking paper and bake for 1h15 on 140 degrees Celsius.  Let the meringue cool down in the oven with the door open a little. Decorate at will with cream and fruit.  Sit back and enjoy this sugary goodness in the sunshine!*


Bobby's Clarabel quilt ~ finished!

Here it is!
All fluffy and finished, ready to go in Bobby's new bedroom.

This morning her little cousin was happy to model.  He has been watching this quilt grow slowly.  'It has been taking a very long time.'  Yes, I know.  I like that making a quilt takes a long time.  It's not something I can throw together in a weekend.  It takes time, it grows and changes.  Life is busy, having a long project like this brings calm.  I promised myself to finish 'Clarabel' before starting a new project.  It still took months and months, even though it's not the most complicated quilt.  If anything, it's probably the most straight forward design out there, with a minimum amount of hand stitching - apart from the binding and the blocks my niece did.   Her first quilt blocks, her first quilt!  The first quilt I made way was for Owen.  I called it his big boy quilt when he moved from the cot to his 'big bed'.  That was two years ago.  I used the same techniques and love the crinkly effect.  It has been through the washing machine and the tumble drier many times and it still looks great.  If you want to have a go at making a quilt like Clarabel, then have a look at these instructions.  I now think of them as the 'posie gets cozy way'.  It's not a free pattern, but totally worth it if you are a complete beginner looking to make your first quilt.

Now.  That little pause: all finished, done.  It is a funny, good feeling.  You admire the finished result, savour the time it has taken, soak up the colours and think about what it will mean and bring to the person receiving the quilt.  I know she'll be very happy with it, lovely girl.  It will start off in her bedroom.  I wonder what will happen to it over time.  Where will it go? Will it go on camping trips?  Will it hide tears?  Will it keep her warm whilst she watches a film and eats pop-corn?  Who knows.
And then I let it go, quite quickly really.  It is a lovely feeling, that little pause which finishes with a burst of new anticipation.

New energy, freed up time, new ideas to explore and projects to make.  This afternoon I'm having a look through my fabric stash.  I fancy a bit of a challenge, summer is coming.


Bobby's Clarabel quilt ~ nearly there!

Bobby's Clarabel quilt has been a long time in the making! Bobby chose the colours to match her newly painted room.

My niece hand stitched the top row and bottom row of nine patches herself  - woop! The rest was put together the Rosie gets cozy way :).  No special foot on my machine, the walking foot I've got seems to cause me more trouble than it's worth.  This is going to be an extra cosy quilt with soft, brushed flannel backing.  It's been lovely and warm sewing the binding on.

So the last stitch in the binding is done - hooray! And immediately, at 9 pm, the whole thing went in the washing machine and is now in the tumble dryer (gasp)...

Another thing worth mentioning is that I'm really pleased with this little pen I used for the label.  It has a lovely thin point, allowing you to handwrite with ease and no fading what so ever :).

On writing and dating labels... It says it was finished in February, but it's April.  So next time instead of adding one month I'll be adding two/three months to allow enough time to finish the quilt!!

Pictures of the fluffy, finished product tomorrow!


Circular needles & hats

It's not all quilting and sewing in this house.  I've been distracted by some knitting lately.  Before the holiday season I found out about circular needles, kind of by accident really.  I'd shunned away from them before as they just seemed so... complicated.  Circular needles look like they have a magical, mysterious power,... only to be enjoyed and tamed by advanced knitters. I felt the same about using more than two needles at a time.

Well, I'm a total convert! I officially love circular needles.  Please try them if you have been thinking about circular!  I can tell you now that circular needles are not just for advanced knitters, they might even be easier than a normal pair of needles.  I also discovered their true superior power.  How I didn't know about this little secret I don't know, but I'm going to share it in case you don't know about this either.  The true advantage of circular needles is that if you knit only knit-stitch, then you are rewarded with purl-stitch effect! I mean: w.o.w :), especially since purl-stitch and I aren't friends.

I first knitted a little 'test' hat, it turned out fine and wearable.  I used up a leftover bit of variegated wool and the boy loves it.

I enjoyed it so much I immediately started a new circular needle project.  I've always wanted to knit in two colours and adore those Nordic borders of snowflakes and reindeer.  I found myself knitting with both hands - a colour in each hand. At first my brain was like 'what?', but once you relax into it, it flows quite well.

This second little hat is finished now too.  Again, made with left over bits of wool.  My lucky boy has two new hats to choose from now :).  If you fancy it you can find the pattern I followed here on Ravelry.  I wonder what the circulars will knit next!


12 Happy Christmas Trees

12 Christmas tree mug rugs, made with love.

The tutorial I based my little trees on can be found here.


The tumbling blocks, all finished

I've enjoyed making this block!  Loving the colours and the 3D effect.

Even though that meant I had to make two extra blocks as I'd orientated the diamonds the wrong way, ruining any 3D illusion!! I considered ignoring it, walked away from it and made the two extra ones the next day... Live and learn :)

 The red, flowery fabric in the background will go on the back of the quilt.

I wanted my white/grey fabric to sew my tumbling blocks onto, but didn't have enough material.  I ended up choosing this one instead. It works ok I think.  This is the 'finished' (kind of) result, the picture isn't orientated the right way, the darkest side of the cubes will by at the top in the finished quilt.

I've got one more block to make:  (drum-roll...) the Tangled Star...


Next block: Drunkard's path

The design choices with Drunkard's path are nearly endless!  In the end I kept it really simple, it hardly looks like a Drunkard's path!

There happen to be 17 different fabrics in this quilt.  They are all in this block :)!


Block three & Grandmother's fan

Block three, my Card trick block, is all finished.

Well, not quite 'all finished', I'm ignoring the little matter of ironing, squaring, sashing and quilting.  None of them have had that fabulous, finishing off treatment yet.  For now my mind is drawn to block four.  I'm enjoying this Grandmother's fan!  It's so different from the last three blocks.  This time I'm re-using the orange batik again, the yellow spotty fabric I've had around for long time too.  The two fabrics for the blades are new and just gorgeous, I love a bit of Scandi!

I can't wait to get sewing!

Now another important part of the quilt came together last week.  I finally made my mind up and chose the fabric for the sashing and backing, woop!!  I'll show you a picture next time.  There was a lot of going back and forward with rolls of lovely, tempting fabrics, spreading out the blocks and taking pictures.  Lots of cups of tea and biscuits too.  I lost some pounds and gained some.  All worth it though and I'm glad I didn't wait until all nine blocks were finished.


Nearly there: Block three

I've started on my third block and wow there are lots of pieces in this!  I've pinned it all together so you can see what it looks like so far and to stop me sewing the wrong squares together :).  The cutting out took quite long compared with the Churn Dash (block 2), but it's totally worth it for the 3D effect!

This one is called 'Card Trick'.  I'm reusing my orange batik and love the contrast with the (new, oops) blue batik.  The background fabric picks up the orange and blue.  I'm a sucker for trying to pick out and repeat colours, it just feels more 'whole' that way to me.

And... I'm so proud, I remembered to be a bit more careful with the patterned fabric.  Fingers crossed there shouldn't be any issues with the pattern this time as the background pieces don't 'touch' each other.

So guess what I'm busy doing this weekend? Finishing my homework ten, twenty minutes at a time!  If you haven't done any quilting before then I'd recommend having a go!  I'm a beginner and am in love!  


Hand quilting love: Block one and two

I've joined a new class and must say I loooooove hand quilting !  I never thought I'd say that.  It's just so much more sociable than machine sewing.  I can sit in the lounge or outside in the sunshine, no loud noise or keeping little fingers away from buttons and cables.

These are the first two blocks from the nine block sampler I'm making.  Each block will be a different design.

Block one.  I was tempted by a Japanese print and a batik.  I'm happy with how the red and orange from the print are picked up by the other squares.

Block two - Churn Dash.  Being a bit more careful with the pennies here and recycling some fabrics I already had.  The colours looked best this way round, but next time I'd be more careful about how the print joins. Still, pretty please with this :)