Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A New Arrival

After 9 months of waiting, our little boy William Peter Henry Ashford is finally here!  Born on 26th January, weighing 8 lb and 11oz...

He is our perfect little boy!

Freya is very taken with her brother...

And I think she is going to enjoy being a big sister! 

All craft related activities are going to be on a back burner for a bit, as I now have my hands full!  But once we are all in a routine hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in my C and G coursework and some crafting with Freya...with little William watching alongside us. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

My Dolly Quilt

So here it is, my finished dolly quilt...

Complete with hand quilting using my fabulous pearl cotton #8 threads...

And finished in under a week...phew!  I have to say I am feeling quite pleased with myself, particularly as I adapted it from a pattern in the Material Obsession book which I later noticed came under the 'advanced' category.  I think it  must be 'advanced' because of the freezer paper applique in the centre, but if there is one thing I have learnt about and improved upon with my C and G course it's applique in all its forms, so to me this was a breeze! 

Now I just need to consider what to 'do' with it.  I think I will hold on to it for safe keeping and stumble upon it in years to come and admire the lovely fabrics all over again. 

Dolly quilt, it has been a pleasure. 

But now back to studying! 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pinterest is just so INTERESTING!

When I am online, looking at other people's blogs, I marvel at how 'up to speed' people are with this whole blogging business, and with social media in general.  I have a facebook account, and of course this blog, but I have resisited the lure of Twitter and can honestly say I have never been on it.  I liked to think I was fairly on the ball with all things technological but then one day someone mentioned their Pinterest board, and I had no idea what they were talking about.  I felt like an online social outcast.  So me being me, I had to investigate, and wow, I am so glad I did!  Basically it's an online pinboard, where you can 'pin' any image that you like onto your own virtual pinboard.  It's a bit like a scrapbook, but even better because no scissors, paper or glue are required, and you can creat your own boards with different headings, to catalogue all the different things that you like. 

To see what I am talking about, click on the 'Pinterest' button that I have cleverly placed at the top of my blog, or to make things easier I have included a link below... 

Follow Me on Pinterest

Isn't it just a fabulous way to collate and share all the things you love!

There is a 'pin it' icon at the top of my blog, so if you like any of my pictures, you can  'pin' them to your own board, if you have one.  I have tested it out, and managed to 'pin' my quilt top picture to my Patchwork and Quilting board; it's great because it will attract new readers to my blog and also it's nice to share my images with others. 

I have also managed to install a 'pin it' application so that I can pin an image from any website on the internet. (not just from other pinterest members).  I am feeling very smug that I can do this, because anything involving HTML usually strikes fear in my heart. 
Other news is, I have wadding for my quilt, hooray!  So guess what I'm doing today?! 
And my last piece of news regarding the news everyone is waiting for is, there is no news.  Yet.  Watch this space. 

PS. Thank you for the lovely comments about my work.  Claire - My fabrics are indeed from Brenda Higgs Favourite Fabrics, I just can't resist them!  Julie - I think my enthusiasm comes from the fact that very soon my time is going to be much more limited!  Menai - thank you for your lovely comments and I'm really chuffed to be mentioned on your blog xxx

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Sew Excited!

Look what arrived in the post today...

My gorgeous pearl cotton #8 threads, and I still can't believe I only paid £12.99 for 20 them, that has to be the bargain of the year. 

And I think I mentioned that after I have completed module 4 I was going to make a dolly quilt with the fabulous fabrics I purchased last week... well I couldn't wait that long!  Over the weekend I came up with this...

Front (obviously)


I had so much fun with the dresden plate template, and hadn't originally planned to make a border, but I thought it would be fun and add another dimension, and it came together surprisingly quickly.  I based it on a quilt pattern from the book Material Obsession (the original quilt has 24 'flowers' - that's a lot of dresden plate blades!) and I designed the (very simple) border myself. 

So that's the top and back made, but just my luck, I don't have enough wadding, so poor husband Pete is on a mission to find me some on his lunchbreak at work today...(can he be trusted to get the right thing...we shall see).  Then I can get quilting with my new threads - I can hardly wait!
Oh and I hope you like my re-designed blog, I have decided to go pink, I think it's much more me.  And I have lovingly labelled every blog post I have ever written to make finding past topics much easier.  How about that. 
For those that know me personally, you will know that I am also waiting for something else to arrive; it's late already, and I don't think it will be coming in the post...

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Butterflies and Bundles

This week I have managed to complete another applique sample for this module (3 down 2 to go - getting there!) and by coincidence it is more butterflies.  It is an applique technique called Broiderie Perse, which essentially means cutting out motifs from one fabric and appliquing them onto a plain one. 

This sample was relatively straight forward and I enjoyed adding the embroidery detail too.  It's a shame that the colours are so muted, but that is the requirement of this module - to work in black and white and grey tones only, so I have done my samples to match.

Which is perhaps why I am so excited about my most recent purchase, a gorgeous fat quarter bundle from ebay, that I just couldn't resist...

I am so in love with these colour combinations, aren't they gorgeous!   I have plans to use them to make a small quilt after I have finished module 4, using ideas from the Sarah Fielke book I have just bought and her previous books, Material Obsession and Material Obsession 2.  I have also just ordered 20 pearl cotton #8 threads on ebay for a mere £7.99, as these are the threads recommended for hand embroidery by Sarah Fielke, and they look absoloutely beautiful on her quilts.  Did I need 20?  Probably not.  But after all, my new year's resolution is to 'Acquire' (see previous post) and who could resist such a bargain?!

Fiction Fridays #7 Laura's Star

Laura told the little star all her secrets,
and it seemed to sparkle more brightly than ever.
As if it were listening.
As if it understood. 

I have long since had a copy of this book and shared it with many children that I have taught over the years.  It is such an enchanting, lyrical story with a wonderful magical quality.  It's the perfect calming book for bedtime and it's beautifully illustrated, complete with a star that really shines. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Acquisitions and Applique

I had planned to write this post last night.  I had just finished my machine bias applique sample and was very keen to share it.  But the familiar problem came up - Pete needed the laptop for work, and so I had the ipad, and while it is marvellous, it does not contain the photos of said applique, hence I was unable to post.  It was however, a great opportunity to have a little surf around other people's blogs, and within minutes I was on a wonderful little journey, getting lots of ideas, finding some great little craft projects and admiring the wealth of craft and talent that we have in this world.  There is so much creativity out there, and so many people are so keen to share their ideas and enthusiasm, I really do recommend spending an hour browsing, looking at blogs, websites, links etc. and seeing where it takes you.  I went to bed with my mind buzzing about all the things I would like to make and do and achieve one day in the future. 

One idea that I came across was the rejection of New Year's resolutions in favour of just one word for the year -  a much more succinct, realistic and memorable way to make a resolution and stick to it.  So I had a little think about what mine is going to be and I decided upon ACQUIRE.  These are the things I would like to Acquire this year, in no particular order;

knowledge -  about quilitng, past present and future
knowledge -  about art, sewing, embroidery, craftsmen and women
skills  - relating to quilting, sewing, cooking, childrearing (lol!)
friends - be they on line or in Jersey - through my blog I have already come across so many inspiring people, I wouldn't be without them now
ideas - about all of the above, including more ways to be creative with Freya, through play, games, craft etc
Supplies -  I would love to add to my small, yet treasured crafting collection - more buttons, more ribbon, more fabrics, threads, craft books, embellishments, tools - all the things that make my heart sing

It would be wonderful in the future, when I have acquired all these things for my resolution to be SHARE, but I think I need to work on the knowledge and skills bit a bit more first, before I am able to fully share!! (But I am more than happy to share what I do have already - I hope all my friends know that :-) )   
So I hope that I can work hard every day to Acquire a little bit more, mainly in the skills and knowledge sense, so that I can be the best that I can be.  And some new friends and fabrics and supplies along the way will be an added bonus. 

Back to samples, here is my machine bias celtic applique butterfly - as the title suggests, I made the bias strips on the machine, then I appliqued them on to the white fabric. 

Ok so it's not completely perfect, but you find me a butterfly in nature that is completely symmetrical!  Overall, I enjoyed doing it and it was not as hard as I though it was going to be because I was only sewing through one layer of fabric - much easier on the fingers. 

Today I have a full day of peace - Freya is at the childminder all day for the first time, so I need to crack on, I have lots of skills and knowledge to Aquire and need to make the most of the time!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Making Progress

I am very conscious that recently my blog has been more and more about Freya, and books and Christmas etc. and very little to do with quilting!  But the good news is I have been working really hard on my texture module and very soon there will be lots to share.  I have managed to complete my first sample for this module, the Hawaiian applique sample (see previous blog post) and this involved lots of hand quilting and straining of the eyes as I sewed black onto black by hand.  I am now in the planning stages of a machine bias applique sample, and I have found a nice celtic design of a butterfly which I am going to attempt...watch this space! 

One of the other requirements for this module is to make your own papers, using a black and white theme.   I had a fun afternoon getting very messy and came up with 9 papers in total.  I mainly used black ink, and also bleach, a straw to blow the ink, crayon and masking tape as a resist and a sponge.    Below is a picture of some small versions that I made to put in my portfolio;

I was very careful to protect all the surfaces in our kitchen, but one thing I didn't cover was my hands - they are still stained two days later!  I think latex gloves will be needed next time! 

I have also come up with a different way to present my research on texture and my chosen artist (Claude Monet) and so when these bits are complete I will share a picture or two as well. 

This week I have been ultra indulgent and purchased another quilting book 'Quilting From Little Things' by Sarah Fielke.  Jersey Post has done itself proud and managed to deliver it to me in just a couple of days (unheard of!) and I am desperate to sit down and have a really good read.  Her quilts are just so beautiful and her work so inspiring.  In this book there are smaller projects and what she refers to as 'dolly quilts.' So once I have completed the Texture module I am going to throw caution to the wind and make one, before moving on to module 5.  I love my C and G course, but over a year has passed and so far I have not made a quilt at all and I just can't wait any longer!

Fiction Fridays #6 Miss Polly Had a Dolly

Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick
So she phoned for the doctor to be quick, quick, quick...

This book is always a winner for several reasons:

1) It involves singing to the song, and rapid turning of pages which always adds to the fun

2) Freya loves the actions i.e rat a tat tat on the door

3) It's very quick (great when you have had enough and want to get small children to bed!)

So perhaps not the most literary or inspiring of children's books, but a lot of fun and even more so now that Freya is able to join in most of the rhyming. 

Right, now back to posts about quilting!