Monday, 24 August 2015

Thank You

Wow, what a reaction I got to my last post ! I did hesitate about sharing my weight loss story, felt a bit self conscious but I received more comments than usual,  much bigger viewer stats and if I have given hope to just one person out there then I am so glad I did the post.

But now, back to quilty stuff - since I last wrote I have been to the Festival of Quilts with my pal Janet - we have been loads of times over the years and usually fly and stay awhile. We hadn't planned on going this year at all but then became aware that there were some seats left on a coach trip going from our neck of the woods so we decided to try it.
The organisation of the trip was faultless, it was excellent value for money; we were first on the coach, there were quite a few pick ups before we really felt we were motoring.............after a nice lunch stop in Penrith we were really on the way, just very slowly. Suffice to say we got to our hotel 10 hours after climbing aboard the coach.

We thoroughly enjoyed the excellent show - quilts of all sorts to gaze upon and be amazed at, traders of all sorts to gaze upon and be amazed at, oh and to buy stuff from............

We also enjoyed lectures by Kaffe Fasset and Gloria Loughman.


Our return journey was straightforward, took a little less time, and the driver was an absolute star, dropping the two of us within yards of our homes.

Would be do it this way again? Jury is out for the moment.

Since getting back my nose has been to the grindstone and I have a few finishes under my belt.
First up was my Bee a Brit Stingy Row for Di. She asked for a garden theme, with creamy background and bright colours. Helpfully, there was a wee bag of scraps that travelled with the rows which was helpful when choosing our fabrics. I used Di's tiny checkerboards in my two "thistle" blocks.

My next job was to complete a larger quilt that was planned as an anniversary gift for my young sister in law and her husband. Ten years ago I made this for them as their wedding quilt.

And a couple of years later, made their firstborn's baby quilt from the scraps...........

The really nice thing is that I know these quilts have been used and hopefully, loved. After 10 years though, I thought I would make them another and this new one couldn't be more different. I mentioned a little about it here. I have now completed the quilt, bound it, washed it and had it tumble dried. I haven't really used so much solid in a quilt before and quilting really has nowhere to hide does it? However, I was really pleased with the crinkleness after drying and look forward to handing it over tomorrow.




As classes approach I have been busy on samples - I can show this small quilt finish which will be a workshop project later in the year.

I managed a wee gift for a friend who has a new iPad and amazingly it fits and she likes it.

I wanted quite a simple pouch with a full flap and combined techniques from both of these bloggers - 

Yesterday saw my 2nd workshop of the new season - my Porthole Tote, This one came about from the project set last year for the Stitch Gathering by the ever inventive Jo. She sent everyone a simple calico bag to be altered, embellished in whichever way we fancied, and we also were given a swap partner. I decided to convert the SG logo into a porthole
 and then the workshop light bulb went off in my head and I filed the idea away until yesterday. Here is what my clever ladies came up with - check out their brilliant quilting.

and even some finishes on the day................


Well done ladies, you all did a great job.

And finally, phew, I received the next Bee a Brit Stingy row in the post on Saturday - these will all eventually go back to Nicky, two more rows to go. So I have Sept / Oct to come up with something......


Sadly, no time for My Small World, but I live in hope.
That's all folks!!










Monday, 3 August 2015

What a Difference a Year Makes

I rarely do blog posts about things not related to quilting or sewing so please forgive me today and indulge me as I bask in a little selfish glory.

One year ago today I began a journey, one I have set out on many times in my lifetime but this time I kept on going. I started counting calories............you probably know that in this modern day there is an app for that sort of thing, my son put me on to it.

So I downloaded My Fitness Pal onto my phone. I wasn't keen to do the boring calculation bit but the app is so helpful and even has a barcode reader to zap many, many products.
A few weeks in and a friend put me onto the Hairy Dieters books and their style of cooking really suited me, I bought all three of their books.
I started walking, just neighbourhood stuff but helped by another app, Accupedo, which syncs with My Fitness Pal.
As the weather deteriorated so did my walking zeal.

But the pounds began to drop off, I set little mini targets, I reached them, I set more, I survived Christmas without gaining an ounce.

When I had lost a whole stone (14lbs) I had dropped a clothes size.

For Christmas, my family bought me a fancy Garmin fitness band that I have worn every day since - it recently recorded that I had walked 1.5 million (yes, million!!) steps, since Christmas Day including my poor weather weeks at the beginning of the year.

When my daughter and family moved in for 5 months, she joined in and dropped over 20 lbs helpfully releasing some of her old clothes to me as I continued to move down the sizes.

Husband has now joined in (encouraged by a little advice from the doc) and he too is losing well.

I have learned a good bit about food and come to the conclusion that pastry is possibly the biggest evil, we don't eat so much pasta as we did, I now weigh up (excuse the pun) whether some "naughty" food is worth the cals.

As I approached the one year point my progress had slowed, so to achieve my goal in time I had a wee extra push this last couple of weeks and I am very happy to reveal that I have lost 51.5 pounds which is just over 3 1/2 stones, or 23.3 kilos (my goal was 50) I have dropped 3 dress sizes.

As well as learning about food I have been surprised by the psychological reactions/behaviour (?) I have experienced when shopping for clothes, not really believing that my new size will in fact fit. I slowly realised that I could shop pretty much anywhere I want.

So to conclude, I decided to write this personal post for two reasons. Firstly, to blow my own trumpet and secondly, I realised that I might just inspire one person out there who might have given up trying. I almost had, I had convinced myself that at 62 it would be almost impossible to lose weight.
It's not, and you can!!
The journey will continue but this time, there is no going back.


Friday, 31 July 2015

Another Month Bites the Dust

And we stoic Brits are still hopeful that summer will visit our shores. We have been teased now and then by the odd warm..ish day but sadly these rare moments are short lived and before long we are reaching again for cardis and fleeces.
I might as well take this opportunity to admit that I actually TURNED ON the heating one day last week, bet I wasn't the only one!

Taking the positives from this, at least we can sew without guilt.

Since my last post  have been working on My Small World - in fact I have completed Part 3 and made a good start on Part 4. I have even made a couple of bits for Part 5. Have I said how much I am enjoying this project? Who knew playing with tiny scraps could be so..........consuming. I have continued to try and use up tiny orphan patches and have made quite a dent in the pile left from last year's class quilt project.This next pic shows parts 1 - 3.


and MSW wips............



Talking of WIPs I finally managed to almost finish a quilt this week. I think it has been on the go now for over a year - several years ago I won a charm pack, and then many moons later was gifted an identical charm pack. So I set myself a challenge to design a double bed sized quilt using just two charm packs and a lot of plain fabric. I had a recipient (s) in mind and a deadline that I will hit next month. I just need to bind it.


I made this in three sections, quilting each one separately (using Aurifil 50wt #2000 - a lovely creamy cream) and joining them with narrow strips.

Last Sunday I held the first workshop of my new session - Christmas in July. I re-visited a couple of previous table runner designs and added in a new one for maximum choice, I do like to make things difficult for myself.

However, it all went very smoothly with everyone making great progress on the day. One or two ladies had never tried foundation piecing before but picked up the technique very quickly. Here is a little glimpse of their work.


The only drawback to the day was that it was a bit chilly indoors, for July, and we could have done with some warm mulled wine and maybe a hot mince pie.




Friday, 10 July 2015

Midsummer Progress

Since my last post we have endured what might have been the coldest midsummer everr, but now fortunately we are basking in sunshine, totally appropriate for Wimbledon fortnight.

I promised a mention of my efforts at needleturn applique - it's not pretty but it will have to do - those of you who know me well, know that my hand sewing skills are not up there, but I am growing to enjoy a little gentle hand work so maybe I will improve.

So in Part 2 of My Small World there was a bit of applique, my first bits were the four little arched doorways....mine were obviously old and well worn doors with lots of dings in. I forgot the part in needleturn where it helps to clip curves - doh!!


Then there were a couple of circles and I remembered doing this quilt last year in a QAL with Sarah Fielke and remembered her cunning technique for prepping circles for applique.



It involves card and tin foil and it helps if you cut your card circle neatly & smoothly.


And here are the circles applied to MSW.


And here are parts 1 & 2 all done. Still using little orphans here and there so some of my sections look a little different from the pattern.


Unfortunately I haven't started Part 3 yet as other tasks have taken precedence.

I resumed a project started several months ago for a friend's Ruby wedding........



Then my rows for July and August in Bee a Brit Stingy arrived. They are for Di and she has requested a garden theme in bright colours. The first three rows have been completed by Di, Catherine and Lucy and I have planned my contribution and made a start.


This block is one of two but I am not sure about the amount of plain background I have showing comparing it to the three existing rows but my other plans are quite busy so it may be ok, I'll look at it again when all the blocks are done.

and finally, me and a couple of real life sewing bee buddies are combining our efforts to make a small quilt as a gift to another Bee member who is moving away from Ayr. She was actually responsible for introducing us to quilting and most of her quilts until recently have been very traditional. But she is undergoing a bit of a renaissance and has moved firmly into modern. We hope she will love our choices. The HSTs in our blocks are the same for the three of us and all un-pieced squares are from our own stashes. These are my blocks and in my next post I hope to show off the finished quilt.


Now Andy Murray and Roger Federer are just about to step out onto Centre Court, so must dash...........














Saturday, 20 June 2015

Discoveries

So, since I last posted life has been quite hectic and exciting.

We had a nice relaxing week's holiday in Portugal, scorchio weather unlike our weather here now, brrr.
The night before we left for our break, my son phoned to let us know that he and his lovely girlfriend had got engaged. Much squealing and excitement by Mrs Bluepatch!!

I have a quilt in mind..............

Whilst away, the big discovery was Portugese custard tarts - how could I have lived so long without these scrumptious delights?
Upon my return I discovered that our local Coop sold pretty good versions of the same thing, yum.

Whilst away I finally discovered the delights of Skype.

Whilst away I sewed..........I joined together those weeny hexies for My Small World QAL and I stitched a couple of applique blocks that I had prepared in haste the night before leaving. The lovely Katy had reminded me of the method that uses iron on interfacing and I carefully stitched petals to the Vilene ready to progress while I was away - I only went and put it on back to front - some teacher me!!
Never mind, I soldiered on.





Whilst away I discovered that my lovely online pal Salley had fallen and badly broken her ankle - a lengthy recovery programme has put paid to her plans for a trip to Europe later this year and an eagerly anticipated visit to The Stitch Gathering. Bummer doesn't begin to cover it! We will meet one day!!!

Since getting back I have become slightly obsessed with My Small World project - hard to believe I have been dealing with such weeny pieces but I am so enjoying it, I have decided to try and use up lots of teeny bonus HSTs from previous projects....................I have a few.

and enjoyed different layouts.

I strayed from the pattern a bit..............but have now finished Part 1............


Stay tuned for Sheila's daring foray into...........needleturn applique.







Friday, 29 May 2015

Keeping it Short

No chance!

I will be otherwise engaged for the next week so thought I might do an early May round up - it might be a lengthy one.

May has been most unseasonal here in my part of Scotland - usually it's a really pleasant month, warm & sunny with the promise of a summer to come. But we have had rain, wind, chilly temperatures and the need for heating even as June looms......boo!

The first Bank Holiday Monday saw me and pal Janet attending a workshop organised by our local Quilters' Guild. It was a Colouricious Day of block printing - you know I went along not really 100% focused on the day but left at the end, absolutely buzzing and fired up, wanting to take up block printing as a way of life - but that's me, obsessive as always!

Jamie Malden took our workshop and her enthusiasm was totally catching - I couldn't believe that after just a short intro, we got stuck right in, to printing our provided aprons. We learned different processes and went on to print three "free" pieces and then scarves, to round off a fab day.



I have posted in the past about the wonderful Great Scottish Tapestry - I saw it in Edinburgh for the first time, after queuing for an hour. I saw it in Paisley amidst crowds. And then it came to Ayr! How lucky were we...............oh I do hope the people of Ayr  supported it more than this picture suggests.



Meanwhile, despite the weather, I decided it might be time to plan a summer EPP project and thought I'd give Katy Jones' Triangle City a go. Here are my pieces in a "dry run". I am progressing slowly.

Not so with my Bee a Brit Stingy blocks, for May/June I have Catherine's row to make. She has requested Flying Geese, in any direction, block size etc but colours greens, yellows & b & w. My favourite colours to work with - yum.

 However, the last two months, I did flying geese for Lucy and foundation pieced all of it - all 12" x 48" and although I really like FP I was a bit scunnered at the
thought of more of it. So I hit EQ7 and came up with these...............


or


I gave Catherine the choice and she opted for the second one. My aim had been to design something where I could produce multiple geese from minimal cuts. Hmm, not so, as I was using lots of different fabrics and backgrounds. So I took it a step at a time and really enjoyed the process.

Laying out ............following my plan


A couple of blocks done........


half way ...............

all done........


and how the rows are playing together so far.................what do you think??


This photo is quite a feat for it's the first thing to go on my "design wall" this year - my sewing room has been otherwise deployed as a bedroom since January with family moving in pending a house move...............so the BIG MOVE has taken place, lodgers have moved out, oh, except this one,


He is definitely moving out tomorrow......................

And in the midst of all the moving, the curtain making, the curtain altering, the curtain hanging..............I saw this -

and this...........


and knew immediately that I wanted to have a go at it. For those of you who might possibly have missed the excitement, this quilt is My Small World by the wonderful Jen Kingwell. There is a Quilt a long going on over on Instagram but I just know I'll never keep up. However I will make this quilt, I love it, I love the style, the use of scraps, I could go on. What is not my style, is needle turn applique, lots of hand sewing, little teeny weeny bits.............but I am challenging myself to do it and think I might have gone over the edge when I dived in to make these half inch - yes, half inch, hexies.

Whatever next? I'll be cutting 1.5" squares next - oh yes, I already have..............

Yesterday, I did a wee EPP workshop and although numbers were low, enthusiasm was high and it was such a delight to encourage the ladies to a new technique. And here is some of what they did.



                                

And so, as May draws to a close, there is always time to play with in boxes, any cat, or toddler will tell you so.


Fingers crossed for a warm June.




















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