Friday, 26 July 2013

Summer Days

Don't you just love long summer days? I know we all moaned about the cold winter, the late spring (did we actually get one?!) and the fact that we thought summer would never ever arrive, but now it's here I'm enjoying every single moment of it.
I have spent so much time outdoors and eaten such extravagant portions of home grown fruit over the last few weeks that my vitamin intake must surely be super high at the moment.
I love being in the garden, tending my little veggie plot (all organic of course!)

Harvesting the crops is a major daily job at the moment.
I have eaten a lot of freshly picked produce for the last few weeks and my neighbours and family are probably getting a little tired of being offered what I can't eat or freeze. First it was the raspberries, now it's the mange tout.

and next week I think it will be the redcurrants and the courgettes.
With the slowing of pace that hot sunny days bring, not a lot of sewing or knitting is getting done.
I'm looking after this little guy again for my son and his fiancee whilst they are away, too.

By the time we've been for our morning walk a long cool rest is needed (well actually it's only me that needs the rest. He's ready for more action!
But I am managing a little sewing, sitting under the patio umbrella. It's not what you would expect.....

I'm using felt, and wadding, and pelmet vilene and embroidery thread.....
Can you guess what it is ? I do hope so, because I haven't got time to start over!

It's pizza! Felt pizza! It's not finished yet, I'm going to add toppings of course - mushrooms, peppers, maybe even a few olives. Mmmmmn, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
And why am I making felt pizza?
My daughter-in-law gets to teach a new year group next term - kindergarten. That's reception to us Brits. Unlike in this country, schools in Toronto don't provide as much classroom equipment. The teachers have to get their own, and as she is changing year group she will need a lot of new stuff.
I have a loads of felt stashed away, so I'm putting it to good use. Felt pizzas will be a fun way to introduce simple fractions, and will double up as an imaginative play prop at the same time.
I bought the pattern on Etsy and hopefully when it's finished it might look something like this, minus the board, cutter and accoutrements.

Finished photos next week hopefully. Enjoy the sun whilst it lasts!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

A Quilt Finish!

Yay! I have another quilt finish! This one grew from an idea I had whilst making this strip for the Strip Sewing Bee that I'm part of. 

The blocks were fun to make, but there was always the concern in the back of my mind that if I wasn't 100% accurate they wouldn't match up very easily. So I made the blocks using 2 charm packs from the same line, trimmed them and sashed them so that took all the worries about lack of accuracy away. 

I love the contrast of the grey sashing. I think it's Kona Mid Grey.
Crawling about on the floor, pin basting the sandwich was NOT fun in the 30 degrees heat we have at the moment. It became my own personal hot yoga studio!!

But sitting in the shade, hand sewing the back of the binding was sheer delight!

It will serve as a quilt in the guest bedroom until my Swoon is finished.

Quilt back is organic cotton by Nancy Mims from the Free to Grow line. It's no longer available unfortunately. I've had mine a good while and it was a great match for this quiilt.
The binding is also organic - just a solid aqua.

I've written up the pattern, and added it to my Craftsy store

Details: Used:  2 charm packs (Honey Honey by Moda), Kona snow for background and cornerstones,  
              Kona mid-grey for sashing.
              Quilted with straight line quilting 1/4" away from either side of the sashing
              and each diagonal seam line.
              Finished size: 57" x 66"

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Friday, 12 July 2013

Swoon Block #1

You can't imagine how enjoyable making this block was. Prior to making this, I had been working on something with really small pieces and so to up the scale of things for this block was fun, relaxing and had me smiling from ear to ear!
This block is huge!! It's 24" square and there are only 9 of them in the entire quilt. I'm a ninth of the way there already!
This is my colour palette, two prints used in each block, so most prints will get used twice. I have high hopes for this quilt.

In addition to being fun to make, it also appeals to my frugal side. See my flying geese units all piled up here? (sorry, blue ones only - forgot to photograph the grey ones!)

As I made the geese I sewed a second seam line 1/2" from the diagonal geese construction seam line.....

 so that when I cut the fabric away through the centre of the two lines ............

it gave me a bonus half square triangle unit

And the really, really nice thing about these is that when trimmed they will measure 2 1/2" square, so they're a perfect addition to my bag of jelly roll oddments, and by the time I've made the other 8 Swoon blocks, this little pile

will almost make a baby quilt in itself!

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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Feeling Thankful

I feel very fortunate. The weather here has been glorious for the last few days, and I have been able to enjoy it, pretty much as I choose.
I've spent quality time with family and friends, and done some sewing.
I've been able to enjoy my garden to the full.....

and pick fresh, organic raspberries, strawberries, black currants and mange tout - one of my favourite delights of the summer!

And then on Saturday a Facebook post made me think "I am so fortunate!
The post was from LILY (Love in the Language of Yarn) asking for more knitted squares for blankets for refugee children.
This is what they said:

Our blankets are lovingly made by adults and children from all walks of life and many different countries around the wold. They provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to Syrian refugee children who have been made homeless by war and will send a message of concern and hope. Your participation is important in sending this message of hope, the thought that someone cares, that this beautiful, handmade blanket was created especially for them. It doesn't really matter what it looks like: even the most basic knitted blanket patterns will yield perfect results – a smile.
Please consider making a square or two, any spare wool you have can be knitted, crocheted or woven into eight inch squares and then we'll stitch them all together into a blanket. We get together every week to sew the squares together into blankets so that a child with nothing gets a warm and colourful, cover for their bed!"

Of course I had to knit some squares!! How could I not!

They didn't take long - I was able to sit and knit outside, enjoying the garden at the same time, so if you have a little spare time and would like to contribute some  8 "squares, I'm sure they would be appreciated.
The address to send them to is:  LILY c/o Dianne Jones
                                                Turkmen Mahlesi
                                                Unlu Sokak No 10  D4

And incase you're wondering, it cost me £3.50 to send these three squares to Turkey, which I will admit is quite a lot, but what price do you put on some warmth and comfort for a child who has had their world turned upside down? Maybe even more importantly, it's £3.50 to let them know that someone, somewhere, maybe in a far off land, cares about their plight and is willing o give time and effort to help them. You can't put a price on that!

The squares can be knit or crocheted however you prefer. You can of course just knit straight rows, but if you want to knit the diagonal square as I have done. It gives a nice finished edge to the square and the increasing and then decreasing makes it more interesting to knit

Cast on 2sts
Knit into the front and back of the first stitch, Knit 1    (3sts)
Next Row: Knit into the front and back of the first stitch, Knit 2    (4sts)
Next Row: Knit into the front and back of the first stitch, Knit to end    
  Repeat until the side edge measures 8"  (I was using double knit yarn and 3.75mm needles and for me       this was when I had 60 stitched on my needle)
Next Row: Knit
Next Row: Knit 2 together, knit to end
Repeat this row until you have just 2 sts left.
Next Row: Knit 2 together, cut yarn and sew in ends.

Remember, they accept knitted or crocheted squares, and you'll make someone's life a tiny bit happier :) 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Swoon 2013 The Colour Palette

I've had a really hard time trying to choose my fabrics for my Swoon quilt. I knew exactly what I wanted - it just doesn't exist!
This quilt is for a particular room. It will go on the bed that my eldest son and daughter in law use when they come over to stay from Canada, and I really wanted the whole quilt to be made with organic cotton. The room has been recently decorated and I want a soft teals and neutrals palette, a calming, not a vibrant quilt. I have spent hours (quite literally) trying to find some organic cotton to fit this palette and failed totally! Children's fabrics are in abundance, so too are bright modern prints, but anything low volume or muted, any blenders or subtle shades of solids are no where to be found.It has been so disappointing! I wouldn't have minded making the whole quilt from solids if I could have found the right shades.So, I have had to compromise - big time. But which way was I to go? Should I stick to my (organic) guns and compromise on the look, or stick to the colour palette I want and compromise my conscience? In the end the colour palette has won.
I had most of these fabrics in my stash and bought a few extras from the Saltwater range by Tula Pink. the batting and the backing will be organic, so that has made me a little happier, and I've also been reading up about Kona solids. The background fabric for the blocks will be Kona Solid Snow - I have a lot of this and use it all the time, but once it's gone it will be easy to swap for an organic from the Kona Pure range. Please Robert Kaufman, increase this range as soon as you can! 
Interesting though, Did you know the Kona Solids range with its wonderful range of solids is the only solid that has Oeko-tex certification? No, neither did I until the other day! This means that no harmful chemicals were used in the production, processing or finishing of the fabric. I guess this will be a good cotton for me to use when I can't find an organic to suit my needs, especial;y as I really like use solids!
So, it's going to be a busy week. I can finally move away from research on the laptop, and actually make a start on the Swoon quilt.
There is something I have to do first though, and just to make sure I don't forget, I left myself a note.

The reason I need to change it? Well I quickly made this little guy a blanket over the weekend.....

......complete with his name on, of course, but Oh! that comfy fleece wreaks havoc with the needle. I could hear it getting blunter with every stitch!

Looking back over the last month, and considering I spent the beginning of the month in Toronto, and the following week with jet lag, I've achieved far more than I expected.
I've finished my first strip for the Strip Bee, I've made a paper pieced cushion front for Le Challenge, made a dog blanket and sorted out my fabrics for the Swoon 2013. If the sun will just please continue shining today, I think I may just have earned a half hour 's quiet rest in the garden this afternoon!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day over at Lily Quilts

Lily's Quilts


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