Thursday, 31 October 2013

All hallowes eve

A Halloween charity day at work included a pumpkin carving competition.  I had never tried carving a pumpkin before, I did not realise how much easier it would be than a turnip, I vaguely remember trying that as a child and barley managing a grimacing Jack-O-Lantern face .  So wanting something a bit more stylish I started my pumpkin too early. Based on a cross stitch design I had see in a Magazine the owl appealed to me. This picture was taken a day after I finished carving and it looks reasonable.  Sadly by the time the competition came around it was starting to shrivel and the lid did not fit so the light spilled out.  No prize winning entry this, it was beaten into submission by a crisply carved witch which deserved to win.   I did not even get a pie out of the endeavour!

Hall-owl-een carved punpkin

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Block to plan to pattern to quilt

I borrowed a book from the library on  the Japanese  take on quilting.  Beautiful designs many of which were multi pieced with scarily complicated block construction. A couple caught my eye and I jotted down the basic block in a note book.  I am trying to use notebooks instead of any available scrap of paper, I have plenty of notebooks but they are related to bookmarks, as likely to be usurped by a used envelope or a receipt.

Spiral Log cabin

One block I was particularly interested in was a spiral, seeing this variation of a log cabin was a real duh! moment, why had I never thought of that.  I decided it would need a nice strong contrast to work and mentally filed it away for future use.

Along came some material, not necessarily my first thought of suitable quilting fabric but the teal was free and I bought the pink to go with it. So started my spiral log cabin quilt.  I decided to use one material the right way up and the other the wrong way to get a contrast of the shiny and the matt qualities of the material. I was determined the flue de le on the pink strips would all point into the middle of the block.
Linking blocks

After I had made the first few patches I began to think of how I might put them together for the quilt top. I did mention sometimes the designs sort of evolve.  I liked the idea of having the lines of colour on the blocks scroll into each other but felt for that to stand out there needed to be some separation.  So back to the shop for cream material.

I had to work out how the blocks would go before I finished the spiral patches.  I quickly realised there would need to be a few smaller blocks to make it fit. I worked that out in a notebook as well, it may not have been the same one but at least it is not an envelope.

Blocking plan

Top finished and boarders added it was time to think of a quilting pattern. The logcabin bits were obvious, in the furrows to emphasise the spiral, but for the cream squares and the top and bottom panels?

Spiral blocks together

 I got quite obsessed with the idea of Greek key as the way to go but none of my books had just what I was looking for or the size.  After several frustrating image searches on google I decided on how the cream square should be done and the boarders, so out came the brown paper and I worked out the lines.  Pricked holes in the paper  and transferred the design for quilting.

Greek key for the cream squares
half of the boarder quilting pattern

on the hoop for quilting
I quilt by hand using those hoops previously mentioned, it takes time this way moving the hoop across the quilt but I do not have the space for a full size frame, not even one of those modern z types.

I doubled up the thread on the spirals using pink and teal in the needle at the same time for the quilting between those colours, separating to one thread, pink or teal depending on the material shade for between colour and cream.

That kept my mind from wandering doing the repeats. Cream on cream was the way to go for the Greek key sections and I have been quite please with the results.

You might be wondering about the green lines you can just make out on the cream square in the hoop.  That is my marking out, what have I used? Well I have tried pencil, chalks (brushed off as I was working and moving the hoop) and those pricey water soluble quilt markers (to faint on pale fabrics and impossible on anything dark) so now I use washable felt tip pens made for children.  I test a bit first to make sure it comes out of the fabric I am using then off I go.  So far they have rinsed out of everything I have used them on.  Cotton, satin, raw silk and this.  So far at under £4 for 8 they are both workable and affordable.

quilting done

Greek key panel

I entered it in the sewing section of our local craft show it was not placed, hand made bags did well this year but not quilts.  Ah well there is always next year, of course with the quilting group I am in effect patching together my own competition. 

All finished, my spiral key quilt

A new start.

New kit started, the herringbone grid was a counting issue for me.  First time I have done this stitch.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

More bookmarks

I like to have some on hand gifts for those wonderful people who trust me with their books.  They are especially kind as I find it very difficult to reciprocate, my books are like family and I dislike letting them go visiting.

Little cross stitches glued onto ribbon make for a quick little tangible thank you that can be slipped into a book or even a birthday card.

There are lots of small designs that can be used and for the waste not hoarders (like me) it is a great way to use up the very tiny bits left over when a big project has been trimmed for framing. 

A bit of graph paper and simple geometric designs are a doddle, add a letter and it is personal.
I keep intending to have a whole alphabet of bookmarks to hand for emergency gifts. 

However, I have never managed it as I keep having to use them. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Tiger, tiger (cross stitch)

Tiger on rock DMC design

This kit is my first go at working on black.  Fortunately for me only the black on the tiger had to be stitched, as sewing black on black can be a bit wearying to the eye (even with a white cloth on my lap to help see the holes in the fabric).

Tricky or not it was worth it and having got the first out of the way I think that doing another will not be an issue.  Nor will this be my last big cat.