Thursday, 29 December 2011

'Twas the night after Christmas (or thereabouts!)

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas?  I'm sorry I haven't been around much (at all!) but I've been enjoying meeting friends (some of whom I only get to see once a year), doing a little sewing and a lot of sleeping and spending time with my family.  I wasn't planning on posting for a while yet (I feel like I'm really out of the loop as I haven't really been online in over a week - I'll reply to all your lovely emails and catch up on your new posts soon, honest!  I'm really missing you all and hope you're all ok?) but I've just had a nudge from a certain someone and I decided to post my response to her recent post on the Fat Quarterly blog - if you haven't read it go and do it now and then come back, it's OK, we'll wait!
I loved Lynne's post but couldn't think of a verse to put in the comment section.  I kept thinking about it and spent far too much time a couple of nights ago messing around with this when I should have been in bed and then emailed it to Lynne who suggested I put it on my blog...so here it is!  It's a little rough round the edges but I hope you can forgive that and enjoy it!

*putting on best 'speaking in public' voice*

'Twas the night after Christmas and all round the world
Quilters were admiring fold after fold
Of glorious new fabric chosen with care
Proof that St Nicholas once had been there.

There were fat quarter bundles and charm packs galore
A mountain of needles and under it, more!
A stack of Summersville I got pre-release
And I can't wait to use my new fusible fleece.

The possibilities are endless, maybe a quilt just for me?
And I admire my stash and squeal with glee!
A pillow, a cushion and a quilt to begin
Can I sew through the night without making a din?

I'm sure my family won't mind one bit
If I wake them at midnight shouting 'Oh sh*t!'
When nothing goes right and I've stitched through my thumb
And I've sat so long my bum has gone numb.

But think of the beautiful quilts I can make
My followers will marvel and their heads they will shake
At my talent for combining different fabric lines
But I'm sure to tell them of my doubts and my whines.

For a quilter I am and a quilter I'll be
There's no hobby like it and my friends all agree.
I'll be buried in patchwork with my machine by my side
And I'll join the quilters' guild in heaven with pride.

We'll stitch through the night and won't have to worry
That the machine is so loud they can hear it in Surrey.
We'll all gather together and each exclaim with a grin
I died with the most fabric, I told you I'd win!


And because it's not a blog post without a photo of Archie, here's one I took on Christmas morning as he demanded to know when he was going to open his present (which is still under the tree - I like to eke out my presents from friends and open them on a day when it feels a little flat and as though Christmas is over...I still have six presents to open so it's not that I'm rude and haven't said 'thank you', it's that I'm saving them!  Does anyone else do this?  No?  Just me then!)

I know one of them has something for me in it - let me at it!  Please?
You can't see it but his tail was wagging so hard he knocked several tree decorations flying across the room!

He did get his hedgehog though and it lasted 20 minutes - good value for money!  This it what he did shortly after he realised he wasn't going to be allowed to open his present for a few days - it took me a moment or two to realise he was trying to be the first dog to be proficient in telekinesis...


I can't see it but I know there's something up there I'll like...

See?  I told you there was something up there!

I'll be back sometime next week for a Christmas round up and to share my new hexies.  Hopefully I'll have stitched the five I prepped last week by then!  Oh, and apologies in advance for my slow reply to any comments, I'm not sure what everyone else is like but I don't tend to spend much time on the computer over Christmas and New Year, partly because it's a busy time and I tend to be wiped out most of the time - but at least I'm shattered because I've been doing lovely things!  I will reply though, don't worry about that!

I hope you all have a lovely New Year..I don't like New Year's Eve - I've given up doing anything and tend to watch a DVD and then go to bed - boring but true!  This year I'm planning to stitch some hexies whilst watching something I've recorded (maybe the recent series of Downton Abbey that I still haven't watched?  Or the BBC production of Great Expectations that's been on this week?) and then be in bed well before midnight...unless I put Archie in the garden before midnight and then let him back in afterwards so he can be my first foot?!  Hmmm, tempting!

Happy New Year - I hope 2012 is full of good fortune, good health and happy stitching for you all!

And I almost forgot again!

Random Fact Three I can tap dance...I've been dancing since I was about seven when I joined a class with my cousin.  Obviously I don't dance much at the moment but I still love it and no, before any of you start with the jokes, I've never once fallen in the sink!

Must go, Archie is demanding some attention!!


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Catching up and a Christmas bath!

It's been a while (a week?) since my last post (is it just me or does that sounds like the start of confession?!) and I'm not entirely sure where the time has gone or what I've been doing - not a lot, I suspect!  I just thought I'd pop in and catch up with everyone before Christmas...which is rapidly approaching - I just have some mince pies to make and then I'm done.  Thanks for the recipe, Susan, I can't wait to try one!

One thing I have done is to sort out my scraps (an aim declared in my winter stitching list).  Before I started they looked like this...

All sorted by colour but then thrown into freezer bags - they were crumpled and sad!
 And now they're all ironed and in labelled boxes...

Don't they look smart in their new boxes and don't you just love IKEA?!

Ahhh...that's better!

So there's one thing ticked off my list - several more to go!

Another thing I've done is to finish the tree triplets for my mam.  I even managed to cobble together a container for them out of a box and packaging from a radio - I've made it so they can be stored without getting squashed.  No photos of the marvellous container, I'm afraid, I was too focused on getting them wrapped and under the tree!

Edited to add:  the instructions and templates to make the trees can be found here.

Tree triplets!
And that's the only Christmas sewing I've done (I was going to try to get the red work garland finished but soon realised there was no way that was happening so I'm now aiming for 2012!) - I made quite a few presents last year so this year I had a year off!

I've also been prepping some more hexies so that I have some sewing to do over Christmas - I'm still working on the teeny tiny paper piecing project but I find it quite tiring so I thought I'd get some hand piecing ready, just in case I'm up to it...

Sorry for the awful photo - aren't dark afternoons marvellous?!

I'm replacing the green on my 'tumbling blocks star' with white to see if I like it any better - I was going to scrap these three hexies and start again but I'm hoping the addition of white will make them look better.  You can see what the blocks look like here.  It looks fine by itself but when it's with the other hexies it just stands out like a sore thumb...

According to the hexy calculator I've got 23% of my hexies done (I'm not including the half hexies I'll need to square the edge) and these five new ones will take it to 26%.  I was hoping to get some more ready but these seemed to take hours and I ran out of time (and energy!)...


I also joined Pinterest and I think it's going to be very addictive!  You can find me here if you're interested...I'm just finding my way at the moment so any tips will be gratefully received!  I read a post by Adrianne at Little Bluebell today - did you know that even if you're not on Pinterest you can what (if anything!) has been pinned from your blog?  I tried it in the certain knowledge that there wouldn't be anything but to my surprise found four pins!  How thrilling!  To try it go to Adrianne's blog post about it, type the link into your browser and adapt it for your blog.


Yesterday I got a surprise present in the post from a certain someone...I was tempted to open it but once I learnt there was something in it for Archie (who doesn't normally get Christmas presents) I decided to save it for a few days!  Thank you, Judith, Archie is very excited to have a present under the tree and he's already given it a good sniff!

Love the card!
Today I called into the vet to get some worming tablets for Archie and saw these on the counter...I couldn't resist getting Archie and Alfie a treat so that's two presents Archie will be getting on Christmas day - as well as (a small bit of) turkey skin and gravy for tea as well as his usual dried food!

Archie is getting the brown one!

Speaking of Archie, it was time for his Christmas bath on Monday - to say he wasn't thrilled is an understatement!

Ears back and flat to his head - his scared posture.
Look how worried he looks...the poor thing!  Now it might seem cruel when the temperature outside was hovering about 5 degrees but Archie gets bathed outside.  Because he's petrified of being in water and if I put him in the bath he gets very distressed (and so do I).  I've done it twice and I'm never doing it again.  As a special treat I used several buckets of warm water - not as easy as a hosepipe but much kinder! 

I don't really need a bath - I had one four months ago!  We'll just go back inside and forget all about it shall we?

One of the drawbacks of using warm water is that I had to keep going back to refill the bucket!

Let me in!
After he'd been dried a little (with a towel, not a hair dryer - something else he's scared of!) I moved the settee so he could get right next to the radiator to have a lick and get dry

Do you mind, I'm in the middle of my post bath lick!  Some privacy would be nice...
And after a lot of licking and some biscuits to make up for the distress and indignity of being bathed outside in the middle of December he relaxed in his bed and was kind enough to let me take a photo of his gorgeous pink paws!

I love those freckly pink pads!
Now if that isn't relaxed I don't know what is!!

And one last photo before I go - thanks to a bit of pot luck charm pack shuffling with Fiona I'm now the proud owner of three charm packs of Terrain.

Aren't they nice?!
They're still in the packaging because I'm 'not allowed' to open them until all my Christmas jobs are done!

I'm not sure what I'm going to make with them yet.  I know it will be a quilt and I'm contemplating making an ArchieBobSquarePants quilt (I've been wanting to make that block for a while and just haven't got round to it!)...any other suggestions are welcome.  Lucy has recently made a wonderful Terrain lattice quilt - please go over and see how marvellous it looks!  Maybe I should make one of those instead.  Or maybe a larger version of Wonky?  It's not like I'll be starting it for a few months so I've got a while to ponder!

All that's left is to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year - I hope we all have a fabulous (and healthy!) 2012.   I'm not sure how much I'm going to be online in the next week or so so please forgive me if you don't hear from me for a while - I'll catch up with you all soon!

Oh, I almost forgot about my random fact!

Random Fact Two - I didn't know I had curly hair until about 18 months ago.  For years I've battled with my hair, trying to straighten the kinks and waves and stop it going fluffy and it never occurred to me that it was curly rather than awkward and difficult!  Now I have curly hair and I love it - it's so much easier to look after and once I've done it on a morning I don't need to touch it again!  And I don't need several different products plus a hair dryer and straighteners, just some mousse, a diffuser (I know, how 80s does that sound?!) and a little spray of water and, hey presto!, curls!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A winner!

Archie and I would like to say thank you very much for all the wonderful comments about the embroidered hoop and all the very funny captions for his photo - we had a great time reading all your suggestions! (Well, I did, Archie just perked up each time I mentioned biscuit or walk!).  So, Archie has picked a winner but before I do the big reveal (lots of photos and a couple of short videos!) here's a quick catch up...

My prize from Kristyne's giveaway, sponsored by Gigi at Pinks and Needles, arrived at the weekend and it's even more wonderful in person.  Unfortunately my photos can't do justice to the delicate beauty of the pin toppers and the egg cup pincushion but here's my (poor!) effort...

I love them so much...they're currently living on my mantelpiece!
Thank you, Kristyne and Gigi!

And I have been doing a bit of sewing but nothing I can show you at the moment.  Here's something almost finished that I can share...it just needs stars on the top and two companions, my mam's dining table is getting three of them for Christmas!

A bit naked without its stars at the top but you get the idea!

Archie and I had quite a few conversations about the best way to pick a winner.  He was very keen on me printing out all 86 comments and putting a biscuit on each one.  (86 because one comment was mine - no, I wasn't trying to win my own prize! - and one person commented three times as they were worried about their first comment containing a potentially offensive word and wanted to give me the option to delete it...which I didn't!  Also, two comments were left after the closing time but Archie declared that it wouldn't be fair to leave them out for the sake of a few hours so we included them in the draw...still with me?!)  So, 86 biscuits in a line, yes?  No!  As I explained to Archie we don't have room to lay 86 biscuits in a semicircle and make it at all fair for everyone and if he thinks I'm going to let him eat 86 biscuits on the trot then he's got another think coming.  We reached a compromise that would involve a bit of luck, a bit of deciding and several biscuits!

Here's the plan...

Put the numbers 1 to 86 in Archie's food ball (used to distract him when I've got visitors who aren't keen on dogs and occasionally as a treat for him, and me!) and get Archie to roll the ball around until five numbers drop out.  Then match those numbers to the comments, read them to Archie and get him to pick his favourite...

Our independent adjudicator (I think it was Archie pretending!) insisted we show all the numbers ready to go in the ball...you'll have to take Archie's the adjudicator's word for it that all 86 are there!


Initially Archie refused to get out of bed to draw the winners of the first round as he knew there weren't any biscuits in the ball.  This was soon resolved with the help of ACAS and a handful of biscuits. (Archie would like me to point out that 'biscuit' is overstating it...they're bits of his dried food and are about half an inch long!)


As several people have pointed out...I don't have to get out of bed you know!
Once that issue was resolved Archie deigned to participate and I managed to catch a short (and wobbly!) clip of how the first round worked...

video


If you listen carefully you can hear his teeth chattering with excitement at the beginning and if you have very sharp eyes you'll see the first number fall out under the Christmas tree!

And the winners of the first round, and therefore those going through to the final voting are...

For anyone unable to read my writing it says Nicky, Hadley, Marjorie, Annabella and Di@Willowbeck

Note to self (to be added to my blogging rules) - when doing any writing that might end up on your blog it's wise to make sure it's your best writing not some spider scrawl!

Time for round two!

As when Archie voted for his favourite Japanese scrap bag challenger I set out his voting booth while he was shut in the front room and he was so excited at the prospect of voting that he could barely contain himself!  (Please ignore the bags and boxes in the background, it's tree decorations, etc!)


video


Unfortunately I didn't manage to capture his excited full body quiver but trust me, he was very excited so after sitting him down and reminding him of the rules I let him into the booth...

So I read them all and then pick my favourite?  And I can eat the other four biscuits afterwards?

Ohhh...this is tougher than I expected...

You'll have to get faster with that camera!
As you can see I wasn't fast enough to take a photo of him scoffing the first biscuit and only managed to capture him choosing second place but the winner is (and I wish I could make a hoop for all of you but I'm afraid I'd be at it until it was time to get my bus pass!)....


Hadley!  Well done, Hadley, I've sent you an email!  (Well, I will do once I've written and published this post!)  Archie would like to say something to you...ahem...You're right, it wasn't the deal - the deal was I'd spread hair everywhere, bark at the doorbell and demand to be fussed at inconvenient moments...there was no mention of hundreds of photos and picking in the contract, I think I'll demand a new contract, with a clause specifying rewards for participating in blog related activities...

And just in case you've forgotten what was on offer, here's what Hadley will be getting in the post.



And if you were observant you'll have caught the results of my penguin moment (an idea blatantly copied from Alison at Little Island Quilting - I hope she doesn't mind!) and another item to add to 'ATWD's blogging rules' (I might put them on the side bar, once I've worked out how to do it!)...when conducting a voting session that involves lots of bits of paper in a food ball don't leave the dog alone with the ball while you find out who he picked...


Yes, that would be 81 (5 were with me!) pieces of paper all over my carpet, under the tree, behind the telly, etc.  As far as the eye can see, in fact, and round the corner too!

After all that excitement I spent the afternoon putting lots of decorations (my mam calls them toys!) on the naked-but-for-lights tree that has been lurking in the background of the photos and now it looks like this


It looks much better IRL, honestly it does!!
And finally (phew!) I've decided to try to include a random fact about me or Archie (thanks, Lucy! If you don't know Lucy please go and visit her, say hello and become a follower, she's one of the many wonderful and lovely people I've had the privilege to get to know since I started my blog) in my next few posts so here is

Random Fact One - Archie hasn't always been called Archie.  When I adopted him from the rescue centre (where he'd also been as a puppy and then returned when he was about 18 months old...) he was called Milo.  Which I hated (I wasn't going to shout the name of a Tweenie across the field - I think Milo is the one with the purple face!) and which he didn't respond to at all so I spent a couple of days pondering names and trying them out on him.  It soon became clear that he responded to names ending in 'ie' so he was renamed Archie which he instantly responded to and I think it suits him perfectly!  And if you followed the link to find out what a Tweenie is you'll have discovered another annoying song that specialises in sticking in your brain and driving you batty!  No, please, no need to thank me!


I hope you're all well and full of the Christmas spirit?  Thanks for popping in!


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

As promised...

What did I promise, you ask?  Well, you're going to have to wait (im)patiently for the end of the post!  (Or you could scroll down to the end, I suppose, but where's the fun in that?!!)


A couple of weeks ago I went with a couple of friends to the regional day for the Quilter's Guild of the British Isles and listened to Jon MacPherson from Barnyarns talk about thread (he gave us a great handout and said we could distribute it so if anyone is interested please let me know and I'll scan and email it!).  After we'd helped set up the hall for the afternoon (mini) workshops, a spot of lunch and a spot of shopping.  I didn't buy much but I did get a great book for a bargain price.

£4!!
It gives you a diagram and name(s) of the blocks and is divided into four patch, nine patch, curves, etc.

(Sorry about the odd angle - it was the only way to not get a shadow and I keep forgetting to get a photo in daylight!)  I think it's going to live on my coffee table for quite a while and, as you can see, I've already bookmarked one block that I want to try!

The mini workshop went really well (no photos, sorry!) and it was lovely to see the thing we quilters pride ourselves on - being friendly and helping each other.  There were people sharing threads, pins and needles as well as helping each other with the next step and everyone was quite content to chat to people they had never met.  In the workshop where I was acting as a teaching assistant there was a complete beginner and it was so lovely to see the ladies either side mark a stitching line for her and keep an eye on her.  It's not often I've had the privilege to teach an adult the absolute basics of hand sewing (tying a knot, threading a needle, how to do a running stitch/back stitch, etc.) and it was lovely to see that by the end of the session she was confident enough to take another kit with her to make at home!


On Sunday I went with the same friends (plus another!) to Castle Howard to see it decorated for Christmas.  Some of you may know it as the Marchmain home, Brideshead, in the film (and series) Brideshead Revisited.  It truly is a beautiful home (and it is a family home, albeit a grand one!) and the decorations were lovely.  If you're in the area I'd recommend a visit!  After a tour of the house we went to Helmsley for lunch and a wander round the bookshop.  A lovely way to spend a Sunday!

I've been busy in my sewing room this afternoon but I'm afraid I can only share one thing with you at the moment.  Now, I'll be honest, it's not the best thing I've ever made (one of those occasions when the image in your head isn't matched by reality!) but I admire honest bloggers who admit to their not so good moments as well as their successes so in the the spirit of sharing...

Hmmm...also not the best photo in the world!

It's supposed to be a tickling stick.  As soon as I read the theme in the email (happiness) I started singing 'Happiness' in my head.  Now, for those of you not familiar with the 'song' (and I use the term with some caution!) this is not a good thing...those of you also lucky enough to be unfamiliar with Ken Dodd won't know that he is famous for his tickling stick.  If you're wondering what the song sounds like have a listen but be warned, it sticks in your head!  Fortunately the rest of the things I've made this afternoon have been more successful - it wouldn't be hard!


And now for the promise...in this post (over a month ago, oops!) I promised I would do something to celebrate having 100 followers (112 now, wow!).  Well, after rather a lot of work (started 22nd November, finished 3rd December and it's the only thing I've been working on in that time!) I've finally finished a little something which I would like to give to one of you (and is considerably better than the postcard!)...want to see?!


When I started stitching I was worried that no one would like it and you would all be thinking 'please don't let my name be the one that Archie chooses' but now I wouldn't mind if no one likes it as I'm going to find it hard to part with!  I must admit that I'm rather proud of this and so I'm going to show you a few more photos...


 


In case anyone is interested (and for future reference!) I used two strands of DMC for all but the turkey knots in the centre where I used three strands and the colours I used are 666 (red), 608 (orange), 444 (yellow), 907 (green), 3843 (blue) and 550 (purple).  The fabric is Kona Medium Grey (pinched from my DP project!) and the hoop is 6" in diameter.

And (again for future reference) the back

Laced to ensure the fabric stays taut...

Oh, and there will be some fabric included as part of the prize - 0.5m of Ironwood Aneta from Echo by Lotta Jansdotta.




So, if you fancy having the hoop and fabric drop through your letter box sometime before Christmas (if you're in the UK, I may have to wait until after Christmas if you're elsewhere as I'm going to miss the last posting date and I don't want to risk it getting lost) then here's how you enter:

For one chance leave me a (preferably nice!) comment.**

For a second chance think of a (amusing) caption for this photo (and leave it in a separate comment)

Think of something I could put here!

I'm not advertising this as I want to give you regular readers the best chance of winning to say thank you for the lovely welcome to the blogging world you've all given me and all the lovely comments you've left in the past three (ish) months...

International entries are more than welcome and you have until 7pm (GMT) on Tuesday 13th December to enter.  Archie will be picking a winner sometime after that (method to be decided!) - good luck!
 

**If you're not sure how to leave a comment click on 'xx comments, click here to add yours' which is at the bottom of this post and a pop up window will appear.  Write your comment in the empty box at the bottom of  the window and choose 'anonymous' as your identity (if you don't have an account that you can sign in with) but please leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win!  (If I know you in real life you don't need to leave an email address, just leave your first name!) If you would like to become a follower you will need a Blogger account, which is free, and then you can come back and click on either 'follow' at the top of the screen or 'join this site' on the top left  right (honestly, how old will I be before I can tell my left from my right?!) of this page.


P.S. Kelli - look what was on our local news this evening!!  Does Buster fancy a job next year?!!


THE GIVE AWAY IS NOW CLOSED AND ARCHIE AND I ARE IN NEGOTIATIONS ABOUT THE BEST WAY TO PICK THE WINNER - THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES AND GOOD LUCK!

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