Sunday 26 February 2012

I'm feeling a bit blah...........

It's been a busy week since I saw that lamb - my classes are all coming to the end of the current session and I am busily planning my new programme that will start in August, as well as a new programme of workshops.
Add that to my usual days in the shop, my classes and a sore tum that has lasted all week, and I am pooped.
Then there was my trip to Glasgow on Thursday evening - my friend Janet and I set off on a fairly straightforward trip to meet the other members of the West Central Scotland Modern Quilters' Guild.aka Katy (Littlest Thistle), Fiona (PoppyMakes) and Kat (Domestic Kat) - it was great to meet you girls. However, what should have been a one hour journey, turned into 3, courtesy of Scotrail and a coal train that apparently had a fire on the track between our train and Glasgow Central. Them's the breaks.
Oh, and my daughter has only a week to go to her due date for producing grandbaby no. 1. No wonder my tum is out of sorts!
 I must apologise and say thank you to Siobhan who blogs here - she has kindly awarded me this:-

This award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers and there are rules-

*Thank your award presenter on your blog: Thank you again Siobhan.
*Link back to the blogger who presented you with the award
*Copy and paste the award to your blog
*Present the Liebster Award to 5 blogs that have fewer then 200 followers that you think deserve to be recognized
*Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog

So I would like to pass the award on to 5 blogs that I follow regularly and enjoy immensely.

In no particular order........

1 Helen, my lovely friend who I tend to think of as Archie's mum.
2.Susan, who is mad as a hatter, great quilter & cook and just gets in under the wire with 193 followers!!!
3.Judith is the author of Rags to Bags, we have teaching P & Q in common, and also lots of rain - check out her great blog.
4.My next goes to Jan over at Isisjem, that's a clue to her location. Jan's blog seems to have disappeared from my Reader list so I have to catch up on her posts - you should too.
5. My final award goes to Jennifer at the Enchanted Bobbin - Jennifer is in Canada and I met her thro my Mystery Quilt project. She makes lovely quilts and posts great pics of her photogenic cats.

I seem to have run out of time this week to keep up with my blog reading, so my apologies for my lack of comments. Will get back into my stride soon................

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Things that make me smile

Saw my first lamb of the year today.

Monday 20 February 2012

Monday Memories #12

In the October of 2004 I started to work part time in Sew Materialistic, our local fabric shop. Marie, the owner, had taken over the shop in the January of that year and her mother in law Christine was also working there.One or two others have come and gone and for the last 4yrs Alana has also been part of the team. We have had some laughs over the years and the shop itself has changed a lot too. The ratio of cotton to "other stuff" has changed too - chuckle, my wicked influence at work!!
This is the doorway to our little shop -
This was just begging to be transformed into a quilt, so, for Marie's Christmas that year I had such fun creating this -
Last week I was telling you about Contrary Wife and how this great block has played such a part in my classes thro the years.
I made a few blocks from my Thimbleberries scraps and added them into a central design that I had fallen for in an Australian magazine. It became my largest ever quilt, I think it is 120" square and I quilted it in three long sections.

We have this quilt on our bed all winter, we love its weight over our 4tog duvet. We became accustomed to a very large bed from our time in Curacao and we probably need it - our current combined weight compared to our newly- wed combined weight is really like having 3 in the bed without the kinkiness!! (hope that doesn't increase my spam)
Moving swiftly on, my next quilt was in 2005 and made as a wedding present for my young sister in law. I made sure she would like a quilt and then asked her what colours she would like - something to go with everything she said! I was still into Thimbleberry type fabric so came up with this -
The blocks were pinwheels but you don't see this at first do you, I didn't have a happy time making this one - at one point I was heard to scream that the quilt and machine were going in the wheelie bin if the thread broke once more! I remember it was a Valdani thread, 30wt and a lovely variegated one.No matter what I did, the thread would break, but I soldiered on and got it done.
Even now, 7yrs on, I sometimes see it folded on the bottom of their bed, can't ask more of your quilt can you?
Meanwhile, back in class, I started to run Day workshops and in July of 2005 I held my first Christmas in July. Several related items were on offer and the patterns for all, available -
Think that's enough for another week, I'll be catching myself up soon.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Eye of the Beholder....

I had a lovely day with my friend Liz on Monday. She is an old school pal from Edinburgh and every so often we meet up in Glasgow for a day of nattering and shopping.

We always meet by the loos in John Lewis, and these loos are situated just beside the ever dwindling fabric department.
Liz was a little later arriving than I was so I had time to contemplate the cottons on offer - imagine my delight when I discovered that they still had some much discussed (on blogs), reduced Amy Butler & Joel Dewberry, neither of whom I have purchased in the past.
I have enjoyed the quilting revolution that I have witnessed through blogging, and being exposed to all the new, fresh designers has encouraged me to try out their  fabrics.
So Liz strolled up to meet me as I was having these lovelies cut - all at £5.10 per metre.
Now we always have our coffee in JL but we always complain to each other that said coffee is never really, really hot. So this time Liz asked if we could have it extra hot - no problem. Apparently it is becoming the norm in some chains, to serve at a restricted temperature to avoid scalding - I mean, you would never expect a hot drink to be - well,... hot!!
Onward, ever onward thro' several regular haunts until we arrived at Mandors (Fabric store) - I had been tipped the wink last weekend by a friend, to secure a deal through Itison.....£16 bought me a voucher for £40 to spend in brainer really. However.............I found it quite difficult to spend, I rarely find inspiration there, and I am not sure why. They have a lot of cottons, arranged by colour but something is missing...............I did spend though. I dug out my JL purchase and added in a couple more....
and then I needed a solid to back one of my UFOs,

and then I made up the rest of the voucher with these two cuties for Gordon to cut into heart packs.
I had a look around their haberdashery too, from a "professional" point of view ( remember I work in our local fabric store) - I was shocked at the price of one or two items. E.g. £4.99 for a box of flower head pins, I think our price for the same item has not hit the £3 mark yet!! Shop around, is the lesson of the day.

For a change I had travelled to Glasgow by bus ( I am getting into training for my 2013 bus pass) - on the way home I caught up with emails and replied via my new touch screen phone (ooh er, get me!)

Later that evening, having stroked my new fabric, I showed it to my OH (why do I do this?)
"Looks a bit old fashioned" says he.
 "But it's modern, I protested!"
"Nah, looks old lady, like something you'd find in someone's parlour".
So, as a couple of 50 somethings, we agreed to call it retro....................

Today, I have set to, and finished my Mouthy Stitches pouch. Sometimes when a deadline is distant, my motivation declines a wee bit. I had made a good start on my pouch but needed to give myself a bit of a kick. it just needed the finishing touches and I really hope my secret partner likes it,
On a roll now so have had my lunchtime Ryvita and need to get back into my sewing room, I feel another finish coming on soon......................

Monday 13 February 2012

Monday Memories #11

My initial foray into teaching P & Q seemed to go quite well, so at the end of that first session in 2004, I made enquiries at the community centre where I attended Carrick Quilters, and booked a room for the August.
I made up some posters and put an ad in the local free phone call in July resulted in my first booking........and then I started to fret and worry that no one else would be interested.
Oh, and I have just remembered - we also moved house that summer.
In early August, the phone started to ring........even though most of my students were not young mums, it seemed as if everyone was waiting for the school holidays to be almost over before thinking about Winter pastimes.
So, I filled my new beginners class. Four of my "dining room" ladies came with me to my new house and did another term in my sewing room there.........and I had yet another non beginner group. It was all a bit haphazard, looking back.
Back then, the beginners' quilt was finished by Christmas, the classes were weekly. Come January and they were all wanting to make big quilts - that's where Contrary Wife came in. This simple block is amazing. Like so many other patchwork blocks, it is easy to put together and when you make multiples it has infinite possibilities.

This is the same block with the colour values swapped around.

 I chose this block as I thought it would provide good cutting practice for my new quilters, a bit of practice with HSTs and would show the importance of colour value. I do have to say however that back then one of my ladies chose 3 cream fabrics for her quilt and I was terribly anxious - but, it was a total stunner and had taught me that you don't always have to follow "the rules".

 All of the above are variations of just one block, Contrary Wife, repeated..........
I believe Contrary Wife originated in the US during the 40s when, probably for the first time, women worked outside the home for the war effort, and inside the home too, Contrary Wives!
The eagle eyed among you will have recognised that I had a helper with my class prep - Electric Quilt, couldn't have done it without.
If you check out my flickr photostream you can see some of the lovelies that have been made in class.
As well as regular classes, I decided to try holding all day workshops - my friends and I used to enjoy a good workshop, a full day of indulgent sewing.
I opted for a different venue, Alloway Village Hall, just opposite Robert Burn's cottage, very picturesque.
I think my first workshop was for making a quillow - everyone loves a quillow and it's lovely to see the surprise and delight when someone makes one for the first time.
I really thought I would have different students each year but when it was obvious some wanted to come back, I had to come up with a new plan to accommodate old and new .....and so the classes became fortnightly (every two weeks!)
Eight years on, the classes have settled into a sort of pattern. Some people drop out and each year I add in a new batch of beginners. One year I plan a biggish quilt project, the next, we make smaller stuff, like table runners and bags.
I run about 6 workshops a year too and they are just what I hoped they would be, days of self indulgent sewing, when you don't have to leave your quilting to peel the potatoes................

Friday 10 February 2012

Friday Fun

Two giveaways I really have to share although I imagine you have all been there and done that!!
First up, Lynne, over at Lily's Quilts has a stonker of a giveaway, sponsored by Oakshott, 100 fat 1/8s!!
The next giveaway to go have a look at is from my blogpal, Susan, aka Canadian Abroad - Susan tells it like it is and has a great blog.......she is celebrating a year of blogging and you should check out her work from the last year, it's amazing.
So, to celebrate, Susan is giving away some of her precious stash -
Lovely jubbly!
Back in my world of bluepatchquilts, all my classes are heading fast towards the end of session. I usually finish up at Easter and take a break until Christmas in July..ha!
The ladies in the beginner's class have all been following the same quilt plan, but are all turning out beautifully different.
This year, I challenged all the ladies in the non-beginner classes, to choose their own quilt project.
Every year I hold an end of term Open Night and this year I have scheduled it as an Open Day, bigger space, more time, and with cakes!!
And I am beginning to get really excited about it this year because it seems every class I have had over the last 2 weeks, finished quilts are being produced, and oh! what a selection....I am going to keep you all waiting until after the Open Day and then I will share all the wonderful talent.
Just one wee peek at the moment - this quilt has not been done in class, Irene made it at home from my Mystery Quilt a Long..............she made a different one in class!! Isn't it fab.
Have a great weekend everyone.x

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Update on Gordon

Gordon is the name I gave my Accuquilt Go when I registered him on the Accuquilt website. Gordon is quite grown-up, not a Baby Go, and the reason I opted for this model was to do with my classes.
I bought him a few weeks before Christmas and my initial try out was disappointing. My cuts on the die that came along with him, were just not crisp. I couldn't believe I had parted with so much dosh and still had to use scissors to complete a cut..........I got into online dialogues with Accuquilt, and to be fair, they replaced the die - all was well, and I added a couple of dies to my stable.
I had an idea that I might hire the Go out to ladies in my classes, and income received from such hires would be re-invested in new dies. Win win for everyone.
I ran a couple of mini demo sessions in December and he went down very well.........
A couple of weeks back, I held a day workshop, Love is in the Air - this workshop is to make a small quilt with lots of appliqued hearts and I took Gordon along. I felt he added a really interesting dimension to my workshop, and everyone enjoyed using him. At this point, I knew I need a new cutting mat, boy, do they wear fast!!

I sent off for a new mat to fit the heart die and last weekend thought I'd cut a few ready- to- fuse shapes - I am planning to try and market little packs of shapes...........well, even with my new mat, the big heart kept catching. On close inspection, prising apart the foam at the sticking point, I discovered that the die was broken! Bugger!!
It occurred to me that the warped mat might have been the culprit and a further online chat with Constance at Accuquilt confirmed this possibility.
So, before my hiring venture has even started, I have pulled the plug on it. Any charge I planned to make would surely have to be used just to replace mats.
I am disappointed, I think I got carried away with all the online hype surrounding Accuquilt. I did genuinely believe however, and I still do, that it will be a useful tool in my classes and workshops. However, I will take some time to build up a library of dies because they are pretty expensive here in the UK. The mats need regular changing, and the dies are reckoned to be good for about a year.
This photo compares the old and new mat, the one on the right has been used for 3 short sessions and I can see I need to be ordering up a spare pretty soon. I wonder why they have to be made from such short lasting material?
How are you finding your Go now you have had it for a few months??

Changing the subject, I have made myself a new pincushion. I made one for our shop a few months back and it works brilliantly cos it is so big. I decided to have one for my sewing table to save delving into a box of pins and coming out with sore fingers.

This version is a little smaller, each side from a 5" square so would be doable from leftover charm squares. This time, I layered the squares with thin wadding, and for the top square, I used Insulbright. I quilted the top quite heavily and I think the combination of that and the insulated wadding provides quite a good resistance for the pins.
The main point about this pincushion is that I made it from the lovely, scraps that Reene thoughtfully picked out for me to accompany my cushion in the recent Brit Swap.The colours are perfect for the Americana colour theme of my sewing room. Thanks again Reene.

Monday 6 February 2012

Monday Memories #10

Once I was back home from Curacao, I slipped back into my "social quilting" routine, and that was as a member of our local group, Carrick Quilters. During my year out, the group had been organising an exhibition of their work in a local gallery space, in Ayr.

A chance remark from a fellow quilter galvanised me into a new chapter of my quilting life.Knowing I had completed my C & G course, this quilter asked if I intended starting classes. I had been thinking along those lines. "I'd come" she said.......................the upcoming exhibition gave me a platform to advertise my plans and in the April of 2004, I launched my classes, around my dining table!!
We didn't live in a big, grand house, and I can hardly believe the brass neck I must have had, luring people around my table.
I had a small class of 4 absolute beginners and had planned a patchwork cushion, made up of 4 blocks, each demonstrating a different technique. This cushion became a quilt a few months later, and is still the basis for my beginners' class.
These are a few of those early quilts.
 Wynn's 1st quilt

 Alexis' 1st quilt

 Morag's 1st quilt

 Muriel's 1st quilt

Sheila H's 1st quilt
 Nancy's sampler quilt

Janet H's wallhanging

Margaret's sampler
From the very start of my classes, I have kept photos, and each year I have an Open Evening to show off all the lovely work that has been done by the ladies in my classes. I have chosen the few sample pics here for a particular reason - all these ladies have been with me continuously since those early days. There are quite a few others who are piling up the years too, but that would make for an extremely long blog post.
In the August of 2004, I expanded into a local community centre and am still there today.
I have met so many lovely people through my classes, what a privilege it has been for me. I have passed on my obsession and watched friendships flourish, it's been amazing. 
Next week I'll show you a few more class quilts and explain how my programme developed and how I branched out into day workshops.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

A Quick January

I am going to start off February by shamelessly pinching Judith's idea, and posting a first sign of Spring - my wee mini daffs have flowered -
So, after the conveyor belt December, making oodles of wee gifts, I started off the New Year with determination to crack on with a few projects. I also joined in on Rhonda's FAL (finish a long) and have achieved one of my goals.
This is my wee Monochrome Magic quilt, started in 2009 and pieced by hand as a sample for my January 2010 workshop. All that was need to finish was a little quilting and then binding. And so it is finished, just in time for my 2012 Monochrome Magic workshop!

I have also finished my Peeps quilt, aka Baby quilt #1
Baby quilt #2 is also almost done, just needs binding but I am leaving this until next week as it gives me a great opportunity to demonstrate the technique to my Beginners' class, some of whom are just at the binding stage of their first quilts.

My final entry for Fresh Sewing Day is my hexie quilt started about a century ago with Lynne's Hex-a long.
Hand sewing is not my forte and I had avoided hexagons for many years - all goes to prove Lynne's strong influence, as they soon became my summer of 2011 obsession.
I gave myself to the end of December to complete my individual hexies and then hoped January would see them stiched into rows, and rows joined together.
I stitched the final row last night just to find out I had placed it one hexie out in one direction - **!??***!!!
So, after lunch today, I sat and put it right in good, sunny, light.
I think I will straighten the top & bottom edges, and add half hexies (12) down the sides.Then I will give some thought to borders. I want this baby all done in time for my Open Day in April so I reckon I am on schedule................(famous last words)
As always, linking to Lynne's Fresh Sewing Day, why don't you go over and visit some of the other blogs that have contributed this month.


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