Monday, 9 November 2015

FAL Finish: Hexy Quilt


Back in July 2011, Lynne and Gayle started the Hexalong.  About a month later, I decided to join in and, just over four years later, I've finished the quilt!  (I'm not sure how many other Hexalong quilts have been started and/or finished but there are times when I've felt like the only one still plodding hexing along!)

This was my initial fabric pull, bought from various UK shops:

Hexie fabric has landed!

Not all of these fabrics made it into the quilt (second, fourth and fifth from left were culled) and lots more stash fabrics were added as I went along.  In the end, I used just over 60 different fabrics.

This was the first hexagon I made:

My HAL has started!

I found pieced hexagon patterns from all over (Lynne and Gayle's blogs, traditional quilt block books, my head) and decided what to make as I went along.  I took group photos at various stages to help keep me motivated (although that wasn't really necessary, I loved every minute of piecing these hexagons and was sad when I finished the last one):

Group photo #2
My camera really doesn't like the colour of my carpet - it seems to make it bleach all the colour out of the thing(s) I'm photographing!
101 pieced hexies

Once they were all pieced (here's a post showing all the hexies in 'family' groups), I spent a few days arranging them on the floor on a fleece blanket (so it could be rolled up if necessary):

Arranging hexies 4

I started piecing them together and initially I made them into 'blobs' and then joined the blobs together but soon realised that it was easier to attach them one at a time to the main group:

Hexy progress

Each hexagon was labelled with a number (I used a hexy map to keep me right!) and once a hexagon was surrounded, the label was removed.

Five months after starting to join the hexagons together (and about 21 months after piecing my first hexagon), all 178 hexagons (over 2000 pieces) were joined:

All the hexies are stitched together!

I added a couple of borders and the top was finished:

It's finished!

Quite a while later, the quilt was tacked and ready for hand quilting, I just needed to decide on a quilting design.  I knew I wanted it to be fairly simple, and I also knew I didn't want to have to go through the centres of the hexagons as some of them had twelve seams meeting which would make life difficult.  In the end, I decided on straight lines in a white Gutermann Sulky 30wt thread (thread weight/brand chosen after some testing).

I started the hand quilting (in Gutermann Sulky 30wt) some time in July 2013 and by December of that year had made a little progress:
Quilting progress

Progress was slow because some of the seams were difficult to hand quilt through; in the end I stab stitched through them and then did my normal 'rocking' stitch through the rest (I hand quilt in a hoop, using two thimbles - one on the top and one underneath).  I'm so glad I stuck with the hand quilting, though, as it gives a much softer look to the quilt than machine quilting would have done.

By July of this year I had finished the quilting, but I dithered about what to use for binding.  In the end, a planned catch up with Danielle (who was visiting family nearby) propelled me into action and I chose Kona Shadow.  Even that was not without its minor disasters: the first lot of fabric I ordered (from a shop I don't usually use) was stained right across the three-quarter of a metre cut but I didn't notice until I'd washed and ironed it and was cutting the strips.  That shop didn't have any more (and I wouldn't have wanted it anyway - I got a refund, eventually) but Justine and Lisa at Simply Solids (my usual port of call for Kona!) came to my rescue and my binding fabric arrived the day before I was due to meet Danielle.  I washed, dried and ironed it in record time and by 9pm that night I had the binding on the front, ready to stitch to the back while I chatted to Danielle the next morning.  A couple of nights later though, I discovered (when I only had about 40" left to stitch down) that three of the four corners were dreadful (as is this night time photo!):


I ripped off all the binding bar the one good corner and re-attached it the next afternoon.  A couple of days after that, the quilt was finally finished!


And with much better corners!


I've picked out a few of my favourite hexies and you can just about see the quilting lines, too (my camera doesn't really do close-ups so this is as good as you'll get unless you come to see it in person!):

A few of my favourite hexies
Flickr links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Quilt Stats:

Started: July 2011
Finished: October 2015
Piecing: by hand (NOT EPP!!!) (2221 pieces in the top!)
Quilting: by hand.  Straight lines, using Gutermann Sulky 30wt (I used almost 300m of thread)
Design: various traditional blocks as well as designs/inspiration from Lynne Goldsworthy and Gayle Brindley.  Information about the quilt which inspired the Hexalong can be found here.
Fabrics: various (60), both bought for the project and from stash/scrap boxes
Backing: Spot-on wide in aqua
Wadding: Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 bleached (white)
Binding: Kona Shadow
Size: 67.5" x 84"

I'll be linking up with Adrianne when the time comes - you can find my Q4 2015 FAL list here.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Archie continues to seek out the sun whenever it deigns to appear:

Catching the sun wherever I can

As well as being diligent in licking out any packets (I thought he'd been a while!):

I think it's empty now!

His tummy bottom still isn't right but I'm changing his food from teatime tonight and I'm hoping that's going to help - he's moving to a food designed for 'senior' dogs (which is for dogs over seven - I wonder if they do a 'senior senior' food?!) with sensitive tummies/digestion.  If that doesn't help then it's back to the vet (again!) to see if he needs some tummy protectors and/or a 'medical' dog food.  Please cross your fingers that the new food works!  He's fine in himself, though - still keen on food, fusses and walks, just as he always has been.  He's definitely a 'glass half full' dog!

Thanks for popping in!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Catching Up With Myself...Again!

I've yet to find the balance between blogging, reading blogs, replying to emails, and sewing and it seems that I can do one of the three but not all of them.  To that end, I thought I'd post a recap of all the things which were on my Q3 FAL list and which I made progress on but didn't finish (and so haven't blogged about in the rush of trying to link up with Adrianne before the linky party ended), just so I don't suddenly (and I use that word very loosely!) produce a finish when the last time I blogged about the project it was a series of unfinished blocks.  (Blimey, that's a long sentence!)

First up is 'that bl**dy blue and white quilt' (that's what it's called in my head but I'll have to think of a better name for it, if only because it's for Mam and she'll tell me off for swearing!).  This project was my main focus for the last quarter and, I'm pleased to say, I finally have a finished quilt top!

About time too!
It's so big that the only way to get photo of all of it at once is to put it on Mam's front garden and take a photo out of the front bedroom window!  She wasn't very impressed, particularly when I told her she had to stay out there while I went to take the photo!!

What's more, I've also managed to layer and pin it (just about - I ran out of pins!), ready for quilting.  I now have an 'in the ditch' sole plate for my walking foot (thanks, Sheila!) so I'm going to order some thread (blue) and get going on the machine quilting.  After that, my plan is to hand quilt in the snowballs and perhaps (depending on whether it needs it) along both diagonals of the nine patches.  Here's proof that it's ready for quilting (I have enough pins in it to start the quilting and can then move the pins to the areas which need more stabilising as I go):

Ready for quilting!
Sorry, it's a horrible photo and the back fabric is much nicer in real life!

I've done lots of stitching on the second item on my list but can't show any of it, sorry.  I think I remembered to take some progress photos so I'll share any with you when I'm finally allowed to show the project.  (It's only me who's not allowing the project to be shown, it's not for a magazine or anything exciting like that!)

Onto things I can show...

I spent a few mind-numbing evenings pressing and trimming the little bonus HSTs from the blue and white quilt.  There are 508 of them and they now measure 1.5" square (so they'll be 1" finished) and they're going to become two cushions to go with the quilt.  I have a little cutting board (about 12" x 8") which I put on a hardback book so I can trim while sitting on the settee watching telly - the only way I can get through trimming lots of blocks is in front of the telly so heaven help me if I ever have to trim lots of blocks which won't fit on my little board!
Trimming HSTs
I had a nice system going - I'd take ten out at a time and put them on the plastic box lid, transfer them to another lid when they were trimmed and then, once that was full, transfer them to their final destination: yet another box!

I've managed to have a little play with them to see which layout I prefer:
Yes, I know the centre one isn't right - I was being lazy and combined two designs to see which I preferred: spiky or smooth.  I prefer spiky and may do an off-set/truncated version of this for the two cushions.  (The cushions will be rectangular.)

I finished the embroidery part of the pulled thread I had started and this now just needs making up into a pin cushion:
Pulled thread
I couldn't resist the glittery button for the centre, and not just because it was the only suitable one in my button box!

I chose the binding fabric for my hexy quilt - it was well worth pulling apart my Kona colour card!
Trying to choose a binding...
I pulled out all the colours which I thought would work with both the top and the back.  I've gone for the second one from the bottom, Kona Shadow.
In the past few days, I've made more progress on this quilt but I'll keep that for another 'it's finally finished' post!  (It's only been four years and two months since I started this quilt so it's about time I finished it.)

In my last post Archie asked for some homemade biscuits?  Well, I made the mistake of saying yes and gave him one and a half when they were baked.  I won't be baking them again, not because he didn't like them but because his tummy didn't.  (Let's just say they gave him an intermittently squitty bottom and leave at that, shall we?!)  Fortunately, he's been fine in himself and has kept his appetite - he's been on boiled (white) rice twice a day (mixed with a bit of chicken for tea) and three different medicines from the vet (all at once, it wasn't three different visits, fortunately!), but he thinks he's being starved:

I've heard talk of a thing called 'supper' - do I get that?
I've heard tell of something called 'supper' - do I get that?
She said no to supper.
She said I don't.  Life can be so unfair.

In between begging for food, he's been making the most of the autumn sun:

Making the most of the autumn sun
Annnnnd relax...

I've been making progress on some items on my Q4 FAL list, with a couple of (woolly) finishes already - I'll be back to share them soon sometime soonish.

Thanks for popping in!!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

FAL Finish: Sakura Shawl

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

The only other thing I've finished from this quarter's FAL list is the Sakura shawl that Lynz and I did as a (very informal) KAL.  I've got to say that it was a lot of fun knitting alongside someone else (albeit via email!) and I hope we do it again soon!  (You can see her gorgeous green shawl here.)

This is how the shawl looked at the start of the quarter:

Sakura shawl

And this is how it looked straight off the needles:

Off the needles!

You can't really see the lace pattern and, to be honest, it looks a bit like a heap of knitting at this stage!

Before blocking

I put off blocking it for a while (I always do as I always overestimate how hard it's going to be and how long it's going to take!) but finally got it done last week.  First I pinned it to the carpet, using lots of pins!  It's the first shawl I've blocked which has made me think that it would be easier with blocking wires.  I can't see me buying any, though, as I'm managing with pins even if it does take a little longer.


I put a damp (fresh from a rinse and spin in the washer rather than dunked in a sink) sheet over it and left it until the sheet was dry, which took about 18 hours.

This is how it looked when it was unpinned (and I'd sewn in the ends):

Sakura shawl
Struggling to get it all in the photo!

And here's a much better photo of the lace pattern:

I couldn't possibly comment on the rumour that I taped the shawl to the window to get this photo.

I'm really pleased with this shawl and hope the intended recipient likes it, when she eventually receive it!  (It doesn't need to be sent for a few months yet!)

Shawl details:

Pattern: Sakura by Leila Raabe
Yarn: Artesano alpaca silk 4-ply in 'drake'; four 50g/200m skeins - I used 154g which works out at about 616m.
Size: approx. 66" (across top edge) x 29" (from top edge to point)
Things learnt: SSP decrease; SSP cast off (took nigh on an hour!); 3 from 1 stitch; M1R and when to use it rather than M1L (at least, I think I know when to use it!); Russian join; how much fun a (relaxed) KAL can be; that indie knitting designers are really helpful and friendly when you email them for help and disclose your knitting numptiness - thanks, Leila!  I've just made the mistake of looking at this link and have spotted many things I want to knit!!

Thank you, Lynz, for keeping me company on this knit, I really enjoyed it and it wouldn't have been half as much fun without you!

I'm linking up to Adrianne for the finishing party, I just wish I had more finishes to link up!

Archie has had a finish of his own - he ate the last home baked biscuit which Susan and the girls bought him from Tynemouth market:
My last home baked cheesy biscuit...
Oh biscuit, how I love you.  You're my last (cheesy) biscuit and I'm going to enjoy you!

And the crumbs were nice, too!
The crumbs were nice, too!

Just checking in case I've missed any
I'll just check in case I've missed anything.

Are you sure there aren't more in the cupboard?
Are  you sure that was the last one?  Yes?  Well when's Susan coming back?  And can you make some of these in the meantime?

Thanks for popping in!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

FAL Finish: Tidy Trug

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

One of the (many) items on my Q3 FAL list was this tidy trug, which I started at a workshop in July of this year but was languishing on the 'it doesn't need much doing to it for it to be finished' pile in my sewing room.  Adding it to my FAL list was just the impetus I needed to get it finished, it's just a pity that I didn't manage to keep the impetus going and blog about it.  Or finish much else on the list...

This is how it looked at the start of the quarter:


I think the thing which slowed me down was, quite disgracefully, buying some fray check for the buttonholes on the handle!  The original pattern had an attached handle of quite a different (and stylish) shape but I decided that I wanted my handle to swivel down so that it would be easy to get things in and out of the trug.

After some stitching (closing the gap in the lining, top stitching round the trug and again in the ditch between the lining and the outer fabric), some fabric ripping (the buttonholes in the handle, not accidental ripping!) and some fray checking (smelly stuff!), it was finished by the end of July.

Here's how it looked then and more recently (after it had been out for the day to my friend's studio - I was layering and pinning a quilt and took this along to carry my supplies):





Those Ikea tubs are really handy for safety pins!
The pattern is by my very talented friend Beryl Frank of Knot (not available for purchase) and uses Decovil Light to provide structure.  I bought the outer fabric with my Scraptastic Tuesday voucher from Fat Quarter Shop; I bought another print to be the lining but decided that a solid would be better and found this leftover from a bag project.  (Well, I say 'leftover', but what I really mean is that I bought it to line a bag I was making for Mam and then we changed our mind about what to make so it went in my stash!)  The pink 'lace' trim was bought from a local haberdashers, as were the (glittery) buttons.  The trug also has bag feet on the base, you just can't see them in the photos!

Now I've finally blogged about my finish, I can link up with Adrianne and the Q3 finishes party!

Other than that, I've managed a bit of sewing (I'll tell you about that in another post), quite a lot of knitting (that'll also be another post as I just need to block it and I can call the Sakura shawl a finish) and, well, very little else!   I'm still waiting for the new raised bed to be built in my garden (any day now, I hope!) and I've been tending my 'to be planted' queue and wondering how many more times I'll have to water all those little pots (I do hope I'm down in single figures now!), so once that's built I'll have to race out and get planting before the soil cools down.

Archie has been seeking out the sun:

Taking sun wherever he can find it
I'll take a patch of sun wherever I can find it...

And Alfie has been to stay (only for the afternoon!):

On the front
Someone very close to me can't be trusted out on the front without being tethered to the house.  I'm naming no names...

And there was some gentle and dignified argy bargy over beds:

'I want to lay there...'

Look how unimpressed Archie is by the whole business...

Thanks for popping in!

Monday, 3 August 2015

(Slow) Progress

The top item on my new FAL list and the project to which I am dedicating all of my 'sewing machine' time (that's any time I'm awake and in the house on an afternoon) and a lot of my 'something to do while I watch telly in the evening' time (I pin blocks/rows while I'm watching telly and then sew when I'm next able to use my sewing machine) is the blue and white nine patch/snowball quilt, started (oh, the shame) in February 2012.  Mam and I hatched the plan (the quilt is for her spare bed) over one of our 'I need a sit down, a pot of tea and a scone' breaks during a visit to Harrogate Quilt Show in September 2011 and most of the fabrics were bought then or spirited from my stash/scrap boxes soon afterwards.  To my shame, this quilt still isn't finished but I'm (finally) getting there!

Since I last blogged about this project (almost a year ago!), I've managed to keep the project just about ticking over (have I mentioned that it's really boring and tedious to pin and piece?!) and have pieced four sections in 5x5 block 'bites' which have been/will be pieced together to form larger sections of the quilt:  

*All 255 blocks (yes, 255!) were pieced before I started piecing the sections so I've not necessarily made as much progress as I've made it appear!!!*
Blue and white - section eight (of twelve)
My apologies, the photo is awful - the camera couldn't cope with the combination of colours.  Or something .  Whatever the problem, this was the best of a bad bunch!
Another section done
You can see why I don't blog about this very often, all the photos look the same!
Bottom left section
This is the bottom left-hand section of the top - essentially, it's more of the same!

I had a great plan to lay all the pieced sections on the floor and take a progress photo so you could see how it all tied together and how much progress I've made but it was too bloomin' big!  The blocks are 6" (finished), so the top section alone measures 90" x 42" - too big for my front room floor.  Until I've completed the top and can take a 'put the quilt on the lawn and then lean out of an upstairs window' photo, this is the best I can do:
(slow) Progress
It's an atrocious mosaic but it'll hopefully give you an idea of what's left to do!
As you can see, I've *only* got two 5x5 sections to piece and then I'm a few seams away from a finished top.  The next section is currently under construction and will hopefully be finished by the end of the week.  The way I'm constructing it means I'll only have one very long seam to piece and is by far my favoured way of constructing quilts, especially when they're quite wide and have lots of seam intersections in them.  The great irony of this quilt is that if I'd chosen to hand prepare and piece the blocks/top (which, as I'm sure you'll agree, is generally a slower method of piecing compared to rotary cutting and machine piecing), I'd probably be either finished the quilt or at least well on the way with the quilting!  As it is, I'll be glad to see the back of all this tedious pinning and piecing!

In between naps (although I'm not convinced that sleeping for three or four hours almost every afternoon still qualifies as 'napping'), I've managed to plant some of my new plants.  Mainly in the bed under the front window:
Much better!!
Eventually there'll be a box 'cone' in the centre back but it's currently refusing to leave its pot.  I have the bruises to prove it!

There's been one new addition to the back garden (the hole was already there from a plant which upped and died a few weeks after planting, so all the hard work had been done!) - a Physocarpus 'Amber Jubilee' which I bought with some Thompson and Morgan vouchers I won in a Twitter giveaway, with a couple of Virginia Creepers planted behind it to cover the fence (and, more specifically, the change in colour between the old and new planks!):


My 'to be planted' queue is still substantial, however, as I find it nigh on impossible to walk away from a cheap but good plant!

The to be planted queue is a little smaller...
Most of these are going in the new raised bed (when it's built) but some are going in the ground or in the existing beds, when I get round to it/work out exactly where I want them.

The planted parts of the garden continue to please me (and I continue to ignore the gaps where plants used to be/should be/want to be):
Garden August 2015
Ignore the abandoned box in the mucky pot - it's staying there until it agrees to leave the pot and live out the front!

And the assistant head gardener continues to keep a close eye on the under gardener:

Gardening Assistant
What do you think you're playing at, sneaking in for a cuppa when there's tidying up to be done?  Now get to it or you'll feel my hand paw on the back of your head.  And bring me a biscuit while you're at it, there's a good 'un.

Thanks for popping in!

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