My first ever patchwork quilt.

When I booked my first day course at Yarnia in Belvedere I have to say I was a little bit ambivalent  about the whole quilting, patchwork thing, but I have to say two courses down the line and another one booked and I am hooked.

I’ve enjoyed learning new skills and it’s an absolute joy that the learning is practical rather than cerebral and theoretical, so relaxing!  I can legitimately indulge myself and work with mouth-watering fabrics in multitudes of colour palettes. Mmmm. I’ve met great people and had fun and Kate, our teacher, is skilled and so positive and encouraging.

Juicy Jelly

Jelly Roll and Charm Pack
Jelly Roll and Charm Pack

So the first attempt at a patchwork quilt was the Juicy Jelly. Made with a charm pack and a jelly roll (loving the new language too), ready cut squares and strips that meant just enough time cutting fabric to learn some techniques but not so much that impatience crept  up – I soon found myself beginning to sew the patches together.

The 9 and 5 inch strips were to make a border for the 5 inch squares. Matching up the colours and patterns needed a bit of thought and I had to be careful not to use all my favourites first.

A fab tip

Sewing the squares together in a chain really speeded things up. A really clever tip.

Sewing the patch together
Sewing the patch together

More experienced quilters managed to put their patchwork together on the day but I was a bit slower and didn’t want to rush but Kate had explained well and I felt confident about continuing at home to get the rest done.

The border was going to be made up of ‘piano keys’ made from the remaining jelly roll and I chose a cream self-coloured ditsy print fabric to edge the patchwork.

The piano keys would be cut into 4 equal strips to make the border.
The piano keys would be cut into 4 equal strips to make the border.

I commandeered the kitchen and the dining room tables when I was putting my squares together, I was just a little bit paranoid about not getting the same patterns and colours next to each other; not having blocks where one colour dominated or, once again, that I didn’t use up all my favourite fabric squares first, leaving blocks that I might not like at all. I was eventually satisfied with how it looked; let’s call it ‘deliberately random’!

Time then to add three border strips; first the cream, then the ‘piano key’ and lastly a final border of the cream.

So, here it is, the finished patchwork.

Finished patchwork
Finished patchwork

I think it does look a bit redder towards the back there but all in all I’m pleased with the result.

All that remains is to add the wadding and backing, to bind the edges and decide on quilting! Time to get back to practicing some free motion quilting and to decide if I can use some on the quilt.

And am I going to do it again? Hell yes – next Friday ‘Hugs and Kisses’ quilt. Kate has one on her lovely website here.

 

Making not blogging.

It seems a while since I wrote on my blog but I’ve been busy making not blogging. I’ve also been attempting a major clear out of our shed and attic in preparation for our hoped for move to Aberystwyth.

Winterwonderland.

I finished my long fingerless gloves some time ago and have worn them a lot and they’ve had lots of interest from friends. I love that in this cold weather the wind does’t blow into my sleeves. Strangely even though my fingers are bare the length keeps me warmer.

And Yet Another Cowl

On my trip to Loop in Islington  I bought 2 skeins of Burly Spun as well as the Colinette Point 5. I had been thinking of making myself a cowl while I was making them for presents at Christmas and I had spotted ‘Owl Cowl’ on Pinterest, it’s there to download from ‘All free knitting’. Sitting on the train I had a look at the pattern again and was amazed to find that it was a Loop pattern. Another of those weird coincidences! Just like the ‘no commitment’ cowl there are no buttonholes so it can be worn in many ways, and the shape and the bulkiness make it perfect to wear as a hood.

I’ve worn the cowl out and about and it’s definitely one for the coldest days.

Here is the pattern. It was a step back in time having to wind skeins, I haven’t done that for years. Luckily Jeff had childhood memories of being the ‘holder’ for his mum on plenty of occasions.

Loop is a wonderful shop with such beautiful, quality yarns, it’s truly inspirational; I could (and have) spend hours there trying hard to exercise a little self-control. Thank you Juju for the pattern.

Another Cowl

Don’t you just love it when things come together. I thought the ‘Wasabi Cowl’ I saw on Pinterest was yummy, it was a pattern from ‘knit the hell out’.  I loved the slubbby look of the yarn.  I had never seen Colinette Point 5 for sale and looked for something similar whenever I was able but nothing measured up. Then a couple of weeks ago I decided on a trip to Islington to visit one or two craft shops. It was in the lovely ‘Loop’ yarn store that I noticed the distinctive colour on the shelf and sure enough it was the very one! There were other colours but I was going to visit Liz soon and wanted to take her a little present and the colour was just the perfect one for her.

It was  a really quick knit on 15mm needles and I loved the finished article – but – one niggle. I washed the cowl very gently in very cool water and with a non-bio product but it lost a lot more colour than I would have liked.

We had a lovely couple of days in Lyme Regis with Liz an Hilton, talking and eating; eating and talking, we had a lot of catching up to do.  And the cowl had it’s first outing on a lovely walk on the cob.

 

Happy Scissors!

 

IMG_2273I’ve had my sewing scissors for some time. They were a 21st birthday present from Jeff’s Nanna, so work it out. They’ve done good service and are still sharp and in great shape. I’ve looked after them; never been tempted to cut anything other than a piece of fabric or thread. Even I have trouble believing that.

The case hadn’t fared so well though and although it’s ok the holding straps have snapped and … well it is plastic. I’ve been thinking about making a new case for a while and this week it occurred to me that my Free Motion try-out pieces could be just the ticket. So using the old case as a template, the lovely bird fabric plus the orange and brown fabric that reminded me of ‘Bird on a Wire’ off I set.

I decided I needed to use self-binding round the outer edge. I hadn’t made bias binding for a while but it worked out ok. I am really not a fan of the new plastic press studs, they just don’t ‘snap’ like the metal ones but for now they’ll do. The buttons are just for decoration. I love buttons and I just have to use up that stash somehow.

Anyway I’m happy with my new scissor case and the scissors seem so much more at home in fabric than in plastic.

And for good measure while the machine was out I made a little drawstring bag for my new micro stitch.

A new and challenging skill.

Last Friday I finally got around to one of my retirement promises to myself. I have a whole list of new skills that I would like to get under my belt and some of them are craft based. I’d been to visit Yarnia (it’s a great name for a wonderland of yarn) to buy wool and discovered that they ran courses there at the shop. Happily some of them are one day courses which suits my somewhat itinerate lifestyle at the moment.

I really liked the idea of the ‘Free Motion Quilting’ workshop with Kate Higgens. It fitted in with some ideas for projects that I’d had for a while. I had been thinking of hand quilting them but why not be ambitious?

By lunchtime on Friday I was thinking maybe I was a bit over-ambitious …..

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The other course members were very warm and friendly and the atmosphere was totally non-threatening. Kate proved to be a great teacher; skilful and positive and encouraging, she gave us lots of  examples and time to try them out. Tips and pointers were all very well paced and I felt very well supported in my jerky attempts.

And they were jerky! I seemed to have lost control of my right foot, which meant my machine was determined to race away at top speed while I wanted it to be as slow as possible so that I could guide the fabric smoothly. I had the wrong wadding and I couldn’t get the tension right; my stitches were abnormally small and any self respecting spider would have been ashamed of the way the sewing picked pathetically across the fabric.

Things improved a little when I decided to invest in some proper wadding and a little more when Kate suggested I tried a new, sharp needle – it hadn’t occurred to me that it would make such a difference! I did manage to stay on task most of the time and not be distracted by all the glorious yarn surrounding me and calling me to knit. Eventually there were  a few glimmers of hope as the day wore on and I occasionally produced a few stitches or even a whole sequence that looked vaguely presentable. I did make the decision to persevere and was determined to carry on at home.

Things have improved over the week; I’ve gained some semblance of control over my right foot and today a new and proper FMQ foot for my machine was delivered and that’s helped too. Finally today I feel that I can share some photos of my improving attempts and not be totally ashamed of them. I’m looking forward to continuing to improve and will spend some more time on becoming perfect (!) in the coming weeks.

Oh – and it’s back to Yarnia tomorrow armed with my ‘jelly roll’ and ‘charm pack’ for another new experience. I can’t wait!