Tuesday 31 January 2012

Updates on Crumble Quilt and Scandinavian Christmas BOM

This is a crumble quilt I have been making with Jo since last summer, and it was buried under more urgent projects some time in November, when the first deadline was. I waited for a long time for the book Word Play Quilts by Tonya Ricucci with instructions to making letter blocks. I still have to figure out how I can make them more the same size.

I added the sashings today, because I felt I had to tame the wild mess of the crumble blocks. With other fabrics the blocks look great without sashings and form a colourful surface. I have so many colours and checkered fabrics mixed without much thought that they make me feel dizzy. Jo gave a new deadline for March 2nd, and I think I will finish my quilt by then. If you follow the link to Jo's blog, you will find a list of links to other quilters who show their Crumbles.

A small group has been making Lynette Anderson's Scandinavian Christmas quilt BOM together, and today is our first day to show what we have done with the pattern. Melanie started the group, let's see who has managed to keep her time schedule. Here is my first block:

The background is old unbleached linen, and the other fabrics are all from my endless stash. There is a cross stitch border, stitched details and appliquéd reindeers and birds.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Big Garden Birdwatch, Gifts & Sewings

This weekend is the second annual Big Garden Birdwatch I have participated in. The idea is from Great Britain, where they have been doing it for a long time already, and are doing there this weekend as well. The morning was sunny and cold (-15C), promising a good possibility to see the birds coming to our feeders.

We had a long mid-morning coffee break, with the camera on a tripod, and managed to see 11 bullfinches, 5 great tits,

1 blue tit,

1 yellowhammer, 1 jay, 1 magpie and 1 blackbird. The time limit was one hour, but there have not been too many birds after that so I think we chose the best time for watching. The weather is so cold now that the birds are saving their energy and only come a few times a day to eat.

The mailman has brought me some gifts from friends for no particular reason, which is always very nice. This cute potholder in shadow knit came all the way from Australia from Kaite:

This is a very clever way to create a pattern on a knitted surface. The link will take you to her blog post where she explains how to knit it. Thank you, Kaite!

A very bulky envelope from Melanie came the other day, and now I'm prepared for Halloween for the first time in my life:

Now I see one of her pumpkins needs fastening. It must have come loose when I filled the sack with some sand in a plastic bag to weigh her down. She has a lot to carry! This is a very Melanie project: stitcheries, wool, crow, ghost, great colours. Thank you, Melanie!

I have been busy too, and reducing my stash of fabrics. I made these three aprons for the Club people to wear as a uniform in Villa Cooper when they are working there:

Sorry about the busy background, I just threw them on DS2's bed on the 9-patch quilt because there was more light than in the other rooms.

I hope you are all having  a nice weekend. I'll be back soon with the Scandinavian Christmas quilt BOM.

Monday 23 January 2012

First quilt of the year

Today is DS1's birthday. In the Autumn he sorted his shirts and brought me the ones he couldn't use any longer. I liked the colours, and I was very inspired by Stephanie's masculine Courthouse Steps quilt for his son. I stole the idea of using a "trousers colour" with the shirt fabrics.

The Chinese Coins pattern has long been on my list of quilts I wanted to make, and here is is all finished:

I named the quilt "Business Class" for all the business shirts in it. It is bigger than I thought it would be, 150 cm wide and 190 cm long. I wanted to baste it in the sewing class on Thursday and took my backing fabric, the finished top and the batting with me there. I used masking tape to hold the backing in place on the large, lovely table, spread the batting on top, and then the quilt top. Believe it or not, by top was wider than the backing! I could not go home for some fabric to add, so I stitched my Scandinavian Christmas block instead. Well, I got quite a bit of that done! The next morning I cut through the light grey backing, and cut a strip of the dark grey sashing and border fabric and added it between the halves. Then I vacuumed the hall floor, rolled away the carpet, cleaned the floor and started the layering all over again. I was VERY surprised to notice that the backing was still smaller than the top. Yes, I do own a tape measure, or  three, maybe five. I just didn't come to think of using one. On my knees I went, and spent some quality time there, stretching my hamstrings if nothing else. After machine quilting I simply cut the extra width of the borders to match the backing size. Friday evening and a good part of Saturday was spent with the binding, and I even added a label. Yesterday we went to his birthday party, delicious cake and coffee. He was surprised to see his shirts again. They matched their dark grey sofa nicely. - Why didn't I start earlier, you might ask? Well, we originally thought the invitation was for next Sunday, and I did want to baste the quilt on that good table in class instead of the floor. And by the way, he was born weeks early.

We have been getting new snow almost daily all this month. The young trees begin to bend under the snow load, but they will straighten up again when it gets warmer.

Monday 16 January 2012

First PIP and some Winter fun

The new year began with many good intentions, and joining Stephanie's PIPS 2012 was one of them. Here is my first finish of a Project in Process from last year, two Christmas ornaments with a pattern from Suzie. I'm working on a secret project at the moment so no other crafty pictures yet.

We have snow now, and someone thought the concrete swans at the little playground in the pedestrian area needed something to wear against the cold:

All three of them have traffic cones on their heads. I think they could use warm scarves around their long necks too!

Bullfinches come to our feeder regularly. They change places so quickly that I can't count them, but at least 20 of them have been there at the same time. Today's temperature has dropped to -17C/+1.4F, so the poor things need a lot of sunflower seeds.

In the evenings I have been knitting Angel Pods for stillborn babies using Kaite's pattern. She has just amended the hood to be stitched with 33 to 35 stitches. Here is my first version with the too small hood:

When I have finished some in different sizes I will take them to the local maternity ward. They may only need a few of these in a year, because all risk pregnancies are directed to a bigger hospital.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Final Stash Use Report for 2011 & PIPS 2012

In 2011, like in many years before it, I have been trying to reduce my stash of fabrics by sewing more and buying less new fabrics. After every month I counted how much I had bought after all, and calculated how much I had used. My numbers for December are 4.8 m bought new fabrics, and 3.25 m used. Six months of the whole year were "positive" for me, I used more fabric than I bought. But the closing of my favourite fabric shop meant a disaster for my good intentions: I bought 19 m of fabrics when the discount sale started, and when the prices dropped to 70 % off the original in June, I bought 25.4 m more. No way could I sew so many quilts! In the following five months I controlled myself and only bought 1.85 m in all. Still the final figures for 2011 are

       Bought: 71.7 m
       Used:    66.1 m

Luckily I have decided not to count the fabrics finding their way to me from other sources than shops.

I hope others made better results! Buying new fabrics is fun, but when the stash is growing in an uncontrollable way (fabrics pouring in from other people's cupboards, attics and boxes), all I can do is try to be more productive and find projects where I can use the fabrics hiding in my boxes and containers. Challenges are the best medicine for this problem, and Stephanie from Loft Creations has a very nice challenge called PIPS:

Jump to Stephanie's post about the challenge by clicking the sewing machine and read all about it. No signing in is needed, just join the fun and show your Projects In Process when you have finished them. I can think of a few right now that really needed dusting off, but I have also joined Melanie and others in making Lynette Anderson's Scandinavian Christmas BOM. I hope to find suitable fabrics in my stash for it.

Here is something I made in December:

A light shopping bag for DD, using a bit from the same old curtain I used for my own Bag Club bag in the Autumn:

Yesterday we had finally some snow, more than just cover the grass, so it is beginning to look like winter. With the snow missing, I have enjoyed white Christmas flowers, these lovely scented hyacinths

and my first ever Christmas Rose (Helleborus):

With the flowers I wish you all a Happy New Year 2012, filled with energy and good projects!