Wednesday, 31 January 2018

"in all their glory and in situ"

Not my words, but a note from Kate telling me she was looking forward to seeing the finished Trip Around the World quilts.

Me too !! 😊

A marathon of hand finishing on Sunday, and a couple of hours on Monday got them completed by mid-afternoon but so far the weather has been awful which means grotty light to take pictures.   They were 'christened' yesterday when I had a quick trip up the coast with Daisy and a friend.

The inside of a campervan is not really the best place to take photos, but this will do until nicer weather offers a better opportunity 😊.   Daisy did not participate in this afternoon's photo shoot because she's been crashed out all day.  As we have noticed before, longer walks completely wear her out and whilst she clearly had a great time yesterday we definitely have to be very careful not to over-exercise her as she gets older.

Saturday, 27 January 2018


{Warning, contains excessive number of grown-up puppy pictures!}

On the whole January hasn't been too gruesome but, oh boy, has it been dull.  We've missed the snow and only had a couple of mornings where ice made Daisy's first walk a little more 'interesting' than usual but we seem to have been under interminable cloud for the past three weeks and there has been very little sun or blue sky to cheer up the month.  Thankfully it is appreciably lighter in the evenings; despite the daft name  this weather site is really nice because not only does it show sunset, but last light and hours of daylight:

I definitely feel I am hibernating, whilst I probably could have got into the garden on a couple of occasions I don't want to and playing with fabric has had a far greater allure.  Trouble is, all that playing comes to nothing if I don't knuckle down to the finishing as well.  So that was the plan all this week (interrupted by grocery shopping, having a filling replaced, sitting around doing the Gentle January thing 😊 ) . . .

New zips arrived - I know online shopping has killed/is killing the local high street but I cannot find these in Cockermouth (or Keswick, Workington or any other town within a reasonable driving distance).

Here is the boring "look what I made" picture:

Here is a far more accurate representation of the life which awaits the cushions 😄😄

(yes, some are out of focus - for an old dog she can still move incredibly fast!)

The larger panels have been made into oversized cushions, they are sized for a pillow.

In the depths of my fabric stash I found some cheap batik which I've probably had for 15 years.  Never used because the pattern repeat is one of those large and difficult ones that can look dreadful when cut up, however, for binding it will be perfect.  Could not have found a better colour match for the campervan quilts:

Trimming and squaring up:

Nearly 24 yards of binding, more than I need but there was no point in leaving some of the batik uncut.  I usually make more binding than required and it is quite useful to have a basket of ready-made pieces to quickly finish up small things like placemats.

If I say so myself, it is looking scrumptious!   There will be much hand stitching over the next couple of days ...

Friday, 26 January 2018

Kate's photo challenge - January 2018

Joining in with the lovely and talented Kate at I live, I love, I craft, I am me.

1.  Yellow:  Dog's Tooth Violet.  Erythronium dens-canis 'Pagoda'
Four years ago I had a lovely group of this beautiful bulb in the Coppice.  They have all gone ... another victim, I suspect, of the mice.

2.   "O" is for Ollie - what else?   A very old photo (2005) taken early one frosty morning.  I think he had been trying to excavate a rabbit hole, one of his favourite activities.

3.   Light:  this was taken about an hour after the picture above. 

4.   Found: one of my most used, most comfortable, warmest little hats.   Found on a path - soaking wet and muddy.  I brought it home intending to donate to a charity shop after a wash & dry.  It never made it to the charity bag 😞

5.   Colourful:  the quilts I am making for the campervan

6.   Own choice:  it has to be our beautiful, clever, funny, adorable Little Miss Perfect

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Problems of my own making

The second Trip Around the World quilt is quilted - thank Crunchy.  It has been an absolute pain and not remotely enjoyable, and it was all my own fault.

After the success of Friday's quilting I was raring to go yesterday to complete number two but overnight I'd had a STUPID idea, only it seemed like a great idea at the time - use another pattern so that there were more subtle differences between the two quilts.   I won't name the pattern or its designer but lets just say the pantograph was Terminated. With. Extreme. Prejudice.  the minute I'd sewn the last row.  I do not ever want to be tempted to use it again so it has been given a Viking Immolation on the compost heap (Management's idea, and a very satisfying one).

The pattern is pretty and suits the quilt but the spacing was a nightmare and I had a problem with every row trying to overlap back into the previous one.  There are a couple of spots on one row where that has happened, only by ¼" but it shouldn't happen at all.  I'm not going to photograph the boo hoo, far better to concentrate on the 98% of it which is quite lovely.  Both during quilting and afterwards Management and I reviewed everything I was doing and couldn't see a fault (and the day before I had used Meredith's "Featheration" all day without a single problem).  So the pattern has gone and we move swiftly on . . .

The quilts look amazing, the quilting thread unifies and pulls together all those separate pieces of fabric and everything becomes a cohesive whole.

I love the texture that the quilting and batting produce, Daisy can't be bothered!

One minute she was tolerating having quilts draped over her, the next she'd buried her head under the folds :)

When things have been this awkward, quilting can be quite stressful and my brain hurt, so I took the rest of the day off, took up the usual position in front of the woodburner and watched Portrait Artist of the Year.  I always assume I cannot draw (although I never try, so who knows?) but it is a programme I thoroughly enjoy and with David Tennant as one of the sitters  . . . All Hail the 10th Doctor,  and now it's time for Dancing on Ice  😊

Friday, 19 January 2018

First one done

The day started far too well 😛

Two of my favourite longarm pattern designers are Keryn Emerson and her twin sister Meredith England, from Australia;  I think I have more patterns from these two ladies than every other designer combined.  Keryn and I met many years ago in America, and we keep in touch casually via our blogs.  I was, therefore, absolutely delighted to start my morning with a message from her about my pattern choices for the Trip Around the World quilts!  She identified the first two patterns in yeserday's blog as being from her sister and recommended the second - Featheration.

As that was already my overnight favourite, it should have been a 30 minute job to position the paper pattern, load the batting (also Australian - using Matilda's Own for these quilts) and get started.  I should have realised things were going to go off the rails when Management came to tell me "we don't seem to have any water . . ."

So he phoned United Utilities and I carried on with the quilt.  Three hours later I had changed the top thread, tweaked the thread path, put in a new the needle, tried a different bottom thread, adjusted the fabric tension and was even considering getting a different backing fabric when I wondered about the bobbin case.  Tried a different case that was set to a slightly higher tension and 30 seconds later - perfect stitches.
Grrrrr  🤬 
It didn't really take three hours - there were breaks for coffee, playing with Daisy, and a few minutes online just to get some distance between an increasingly irritating situation!

Since then it's all gone rather well!   It took our water company until 3.00pm to make a start on fixing a leak down by the A66 but we had plenty of bottled water (and Management popped out for a little more, just in case) and right now there is a huge tanker filling up the pipes that supply this end of the village.

The first quilt top is finished and it looks bloomin' lovely.  💐

It is not perfect, but I have to keep reminding myself that this is a pair of utility quilts that are going to be slung around the back of a campervan.  The dog is going to leap all over them, and it's only a matter of time before I drop half a mug of tea over myself and any fabric within splattering distance.  Saturday is usually 'cleaning' day but I think Management will understand if I shirk my housekeeping duties and get to work on the second quilt top tomorrow!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

A bit of fettling, and not a lot else

It is stupid, but I have always been intimidated by the APQS machine.  No reason why I should be - 20 years ago I brought only the second-ever Gammill longarm machine into England and with Tech Support 4,500 miles away and FaceTime not yet invented, if something needed fixing Management and I got out the toolbox and went at it.  We probably know far more about working on large, single stitch industrial machines than your average quilter but there has always been something about the Millennium that I've found daunting.  That has to stop and it stops now.  So this morning we removed various covers and I was delighted to find that the area under the front cover was really clean and not over-oiled, so I could reassemble everything and not worry.

We then took off the motor cover and Management drilled a hole in it so we could fit a horizontal spool holder I've had sitting in the toolbox for years (took it off the Gammill when we changed machines).  Really should have done this sooner but a plastic chopstick held on with Duck Tape has been working fine 😉

Then it was a thorough clean of carriage, wheels and tracks and then everything was clean and shiny and ready to load backing fabric for the TATW quilts.  90" wide and 160" long - plenty big enough for both quilts, but had been folded in the stash for years and the creases took some getting out.

It pinned on well but this is one of the rare occasions I really miss the 12 foot table on my old Gammill.  When we changed machines I had to go down to 10 foot - no way a longer table was going to fit here.  Most of the time it doesn't bother me, but it would be nice to be able to work on larger quilts and have a bit of room at the end of the table.

I know what thread I am going to use, and which batting, but cannot make up my mind about the quilting pattern.  The wrong pattern can kill a quilt, and I admit on this occasion I want a big, well spaced one that isn't going to take forever to stitch up. 

Daisy has had her tea-time walk and the jury has retired overnight to the comfort of the woodburner and my Kindle with a box of tissues nearby.  I refuse to go down with this year's flu virus but can no longer ignore the fact that both Management and I "have got a bit of a cold 🚑 ".

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

That went rather well 😊

Despite a few January snuffles and weather than doesn't make me want to be in the garden, life at Bag End is pretty good.  I seem to be taking this 'Gentle January' idea quite seriously and we have pottered through the last week with a relaxing mix of keeping busy but not doing much 😊

When not laughing like drains at Daisy when she turns one of her ears inside out . . .

(In my defence, one of us vacuums every day, sometimes more than once a day.  We have learnt to wait until Madam has finished spreading the detritus from her morning Bonio until we get the Dyson out!)

. . . I have finally been playing with the longarm machine.  If I ever want to turn those Trip Around the World quilt tops into quilts then I have to overcome the apprehension and just get on with it.

Last week I put borders on a couple of little panels which have been sitting around for at least two years and quilted them up.  I am useless at practising on plain fabric - it has to be something 'real' or I just don't try hard enough.  However, despite this potentially being a sacrificial piece (and the fact that I still don't like freehand meandering quilting!) surprisingly they turned out really, really well.

Something else which surprised me was successfully inserting invisible zips for the first time (which I could not have done without this video from Debbie Shore) so that's two nice cushions for Bill.  Zips and I have a difficult relationship, in truth, I find anything related to dressmaking far more difficult than it ought to be, so this was a Big. Thing.  Two more cushions to follow when different coloured zips arrive.

This morning I loaded some fabric which has been sitting in the stash for years and quilted it up.  Note to self, my machine REALLY does not like 'Poly Quilter' thread from Superior but it loves Valdani thread, and Coats Star thread.  I used a pretty Superior variegated for the first couple of rows and the back is a complete pigging disaster ... changed to Valdani and happiness all round.  It doesn't really matter because I'm going to cut this piece up to make small bags.

After lunch quilted up two pieces which have also been sitting around for years, originally intended to be quilted pillowcase covers for the first caravan ... turned out brilliantly but I am too tired now to trim them and try my luck with more zips.

I ~love~ that transitional moment when you stop and take a look at a half-quilted item, and realise that the piecing has become patchwork:

Tomorrow we want to do a bit of tweaking and fettling around the longarm machine, and it would be good to get the TATW backing loaded.